Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Trial of alleged goth attacker in Exeter

The latest trial of subcultural violence fits into usual pattern.

Express and Echo 8 Jan 2008

An alleged attack on a man began with the assailant trying to grab the victim's "Goth" hat, Exeter Crown Court heard yesterday.

Ashley Matthews, 20, of Midway, Exmouth, is accused of punching Anthony O'Neill to the ground, then kicking his head and body as he lay on the floor.

Matthews pleaded not guilty to causing actual bodily harm to Mr O'Neill, when the trial started yesterday.

Prosecutor Emma Smith said the incident happened in the car park outside the Famous Old Barrel pub, in Exmouth town centre, on Friday February 10, 2006.

She said: "This defendant launched an unprovoked and nasty attack on a young man who was then aged 19.

"The severity was such that Mr O'Neill needed hospital treatment and stitches to his face."

She said that Mr O'Neill was walking through the car park with friends at around 11.30pm, after visiting the pub, when they saw Matthews with a group of people.

"Mr O'Neill describes himself as a Goth and was wearing black clothing and a black coat," said the prosecutor.

"There was another group of young people already there. They were not Goths, they were wearing jeans and trainers, including this defendant.

"While in the car park, this defendant went to snatch Mr O'Neill's hat."

The prosecutor said Mr O'Neill walked away and his group of friends changed their route to avoid the defendant but an "entirely unprovoked attack" followed.

She said that Mr O'Neill was punched to the ground and then kicked in the head and body as he lay on the floor.

As the victim's friends approached, the defendant ran away.

"There was only one person doing that kicking and that was this defendant," said the prosecutor.

She added that a witness, who was not with either of the two groups, saw only one person kicking.One of Mr O'Neill's friends recognised the defendant and also described him carrying out the attack.

Mr O'Neill, giving evidence, showed the jury the hat. He told them he had two pints of cider while in the pub for several hours and was feeling chatty but was not drunk when he left.

But he added that he could not remember anything after leaving the pub, because of being struck in the head. He was taken to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

He said: "The whole thing is a bit vague. The next thing I remember is lying in hospital."

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Gareth Evans, Mr O'Neill said he had since spoken about the incident with friends, who were now witnesses in the trial. The court was told that Matthews denied kicking anyone when he was arrested.
He said that he had been struck in the face.The trial continues.

Express & Echo 9 Jan 2008

A man accused of punching a 'Goth' and then kicking him as he lay on the floor insisted to police that he was the one who was attacked first, Exeter Crown Court has heard.The transcript of a police interview with Exmouth man Ashley Matthews was read out in the second day of his trial yesterday.

It is claimed he grabbed Anthony O'Neill's 'Goth' hat as the alleged victim was walking through the car park after leaving the Famous Old Barrel pub in the town centre, then punched him and kicked him.

Matthews, 20, of Midway, Exmouth, has denied causing actual bodily harm to Mr O'Neill, a follower of the Gothic rock scene, in an incident on Friday, February 10, 2006.

PC Sean Cashin, officer in the case, read out the transcript where Matthews had been interviewed by another officer.

The defendant told the policeman: "That bloke came out (of the pub). I got smacked on the side of my face, so I punched matey back."

He added: "I felt a sharp blow into my face, so I turned around and hit him back then."

He told the officer that he did not know the man by name but had seen him walking around the town before, with long brown hair and a long black coat. Matthews said he only hit the man once, in self-defence, and then walked home with friends. He said: "There was one punch. I would remember kicking someone in."

Defence counsel Gareth Evans cross-examined PC Cashin about whether he had viewed footage from a security camera in the car park, as soon as possible after the incident.

PC Cashin replied that he did not view it until later in the year and could not be sure of the exact date, except that it was between November 2006 and January 2007. Once viewed, it did not show anything relevant.

The police officer, referring to why the exact date of viewing the tape had not been recorded, said: "It was obviously an omission at the time."

There was also evidence from Exmouth resident Jade Sheeley, who was walking past the car park on her way home that night.

"I saw a boy on the floor with a group around him and one boy kicking him," she said. "The boy on the floor had a pony-tail, which was dark coloured. The boy doing the kicking had trainers and a white T-shirt top with writing on the top."

She added: "There were at least three kicks. I saw at least one to the head and one to the body at least." Miss Sheeley told the jury: "I saw, I think, a girl telling him to leave him alone and a couple of the other Goths trying to get away and some of the 'townie' group gathered around the boy."

Under cross-examination, Miss Sheeley said she could not remember whether the attacker was wearing a hat.

Defence counsel Gareth Evans asked if she had seen another of Mr O'Neill's group "physically involved" with another man in Albion Street and she replied that she had not. She had walked home and called police.

The trial continues.

Leeds corn Exchange closed

The Guardian has noted the ongoing attack on diverse shops in the UK in the recent closure of Leeds Corn Exchange which is combined with demonisation of alternative subcultures from local authorities. (See previous post on this.) It doesn't mention the recent moves in Glasgow, Camden Market or Bristol though. There has been a massive protest about the plans:

Experts ask: 'Is Leeds going in the right direction?'
Yorkshire Evening Post, UK - Dec 18, 2007
"The Kirkgate Market and the Corn Exchange are both icons of the Leeds landscape, truly unique results of the city's history. The plans currently tabled for ...

Save the Corn Exchange
Effectively Leeds Corn Exchange now forms part of a property portfolio of one of Zurich’s .... Sign a petition to Save the Corn Exchange in one of the shops ...

The contract by the new owners Zurich Assurance banning Goth/Metal/fetish shops is an amazing new low especially considering Leeds was at the forefront of establishing goth back in the 80s:

Guardian - Comment is free: Exchange or refund

This month's closure of Leeds Corn Exchange is the latest blow to be struck against individuality in the name of regeneration.

The shopping centre - whose independent traders specialise in alternative fashion and curiosities - is being turned into an "international food emporium" by its leaseholder Zurich Assurance and the traders have been given until January 14 to leave.

The firm has yet to secure new tenants but promises a huge range of upmarket foodstuffs, plus a branded "statement" restaurant.

It claims the changes are essential to recoup £1.5m of refurbishment costs but traders suspect their wares and clientele - students, teenagers, goths and emos - are surplus to requirements in shiny, regenerated Leeds.

Last year the youths who loiter outside the centre were threatened with dispersal orders and asbos, and shop contracts specifically ban the sale of gothic, pagan or fetish clothing or accessories.

The surrounding Exchange Quarter is the centre of the city's vibrant alternative scene - gritty, grubby and full of cutting-edge nightspots, vintage shops and tattoo parlours. Elsewhere, the bland chain stores, dull chain bars and prestige department stores reign supreme. The evicted traders are struggling to find new premises in the booming city, where rents have leapt fourfold in a few years and vacant units are in short supply. Some will quit Leeds, while others are looking for jobs.

The plans have prompted some to question the direction of Leeds' regeneration and the squeezing out of quirky, independent shops and those whose lifestyles don't fit the norm.

Similar things are happening in other cities, where individuality is being crushed by profit-driven big business, intent on sleek, gentrified spaces and products that attract the "right sort" of consumer.

Quiggins, a legendary Liverpool hippy emporium that was home to 50 stalls, fell victim in 2006 to a massive regeneration scheme linked to the European capital of culture preparations.

Campaigners in Birmingham are fighting the planned closure of the Fiveways Centre - home to a progressive publishing company and a Fairtrade music venue - by its owners Mars Pension Trustees.

The future of Manchester's bohemian Afflecks Palace is uncertain. Stallholders have been in limbo since their leases ran out in June and any hike in rents - on what is a prime site - could put many out of business. London's Queens Market is also fighting for its survival.

Critics claim Leeds is on its way to becoming a soulless "clone town" peopled by wealthy yuppies and corporations - and with few spaces where citizens of all classes, ethnicities and ages can mingle. Their fears are compounded by plans to redevelop the city's Kirkgate Market.

In an open letter, 14 academics specialising in urban regeneration warned the drive to open exclusive retail centres is stripping away its character. They wrote:

"Gentrification by its very nature actively works against efforts to narrow the gap. It also erodes what is left of the public realm.

In the obsession to compete with other cities, to go up a league and be the Barcelona of the north, Leeds is in danger of simply becoming a 'clone city', a place like anywhere else.

And a clone town promotes clone people. As the city changes shape, there is a real danger that it actually narrows the type of people that it attracts."

Their warning should be heeded by other cities, where corporatised developments continue to suck the life from independent enterprise and leach away individuality.

The key to effective regeneration must be safeguarding a town's uniqueness, public spaces and sense of local identity - and small businesses are a vital part of that. This, surely, is exactly what makes many continental cities so special.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Amazing Race

Goth contestants in US Reality Show manages to convey better image for goths:

Interview with Kynt and Vxysin of CBSs The Amazing Race 12.
Realitywanted, AZ - 7 Jan 2008
We had many people who had never met Goths then started to like and support us during the race. It has been great to see all the fans share the experience ...

Random Reality - Josh Clinton Interviews The Amazing Race 12's ...
Inside Pulse, NY - 6 Jan 2008
One of our missions going into The Amazing Race was to show people that goths aren't depressed socially-inept basement dwellers. We wanted to show that this ...
Maria Stuart: Kynt and Vixsen teach us all a thing or two
Livingston Daily, MI - 6 Jan 2008
The odd-looking Goths were truly, deeply sweet to each other, supportive and kind, well, except for that one time when Kynt yelled at Vyxsin as she became ...