Alex finds out about the Parents Against Child Abuse organisation
The pub door creaked open and the talk inside stopped, briefly, then continued. There were no women, it was all men and Alex went up to the bar. After a while, he broke the ice and chatted to a couple at the bar, explaining he was a reporter. Using the ruse of covering another story, he happened to drop in about the night club fight. What was the other side of the story, to counter the current one that was being bandied about; namely that of a bunch of estate lads were picking on a vulnerable group?
One of the men agreed to talk. The other sloped off. Alex failed to notice him return moments later with an older, dark-haired man whose eyes darted about, nervously.
“You want the other side of the story?” The older man spoke, and the man Alex was talking to stopped, as if in deference to a village elder.
“Yes.” Alex replied, turning to face the newcomer, “as I was saying to your friend here…” The elder interrupted again.
“Let’s sit in a booth over here.” All four men sat hunched around the small circular table, Alex wrote as they spoke. They said they were part of the Parents Against Child Abuse (PACA) activism group and had gone to the West Street area. There were reports of teens, some as young as 12 years, who were roaming the area and were being preyed upon by grooming gangs. It was common knowledge gangs frequented a bar in the area. The elder took a sip of beer, before continuing. Some dads were concerned, he said, that their kids were among them. There were stories of kids staying out late, sometimes all night. Other parents said their kids had been showing off brand new trainers, mobile phones, or even brandishing unexplained cash. They went to sort it out. Put an end to it.
Some pushing and shoving happened outside this bar, then some of the punters, foreign types, from inside the bar piled out and it grew from there. the police were called and we were made to disperse. That was it. Nothing racist, even though that was what the police said. They initially wanted to know if it was about drugs; didn’t even want to hear these guys side. They were in the wrong and that’s the end of it.
As the evening progressed, the police wanted to nick them all and keep them in the cells all night. They were taken to the station and charged with racially aggravated criminal damage. No further action would be taken if the men involved kept away from the area. The overwhelming feeling Alex got was a sense of injustice. After all they were just trying to take care matters in the only way they knew.
Alex thanked the three men, he left them a card with his details on, (in case they thought of anything else), shook hands, finished his drink, and left.
Outside Alex could sympathise with their situation. These were working men. They try to do something about a situation they are not happy with. They just are not listened to. The men are they are told to keep away or they’ll be charged under the race act. Its an easy way to keep public order and an easy nick for the police if they don’t. I’d be wanting to do something if I was them, he thought as he got back on the bus to the Metro. A visit to the bar was called for next, tomorrow, as time was getting on and streetlights began to flicker on.
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Photo by Warren Wong