Shop owner under attack for being different
Jul 19 2008 by Andy Passant, Evening Gazette
A STOCKTON shop owner has spoken out after being terrorised by a gang of young yobs for dressing differently.
Silver Johnson, who runs the Enter the Asylum alternative clothing store, believes both her customers and herself are picked on because of how they look.
The Stockton High Street shop is a magnet for those who embrace alternative culture, often referred to as goths, emos or punks.
But in recent months they have been the targets of verbal abuse and intimidation
Last week two boys were attacked on the same evening, one outside Silver’s shop and another attending an event she had organised.
At 6.30pm on Thursday, July 10, a 13-year-old boy was attacked by one of a gang of youths entering the shop. One of the gang struck him on the head with what is believed to be a metal bar, leaving him with bruising to his head.
Then at 7.40pm the same evening, it is believed members of the same gang attacked Silver’s 15-year-old son Martyn as he attended a youth event at the Georgian Theatre.
A youth punched him in the face, leaving him with bruising and swelling.
Silver, a 39-year-old mother-of-five from Stockton, said: “It is an escalating problem.
“We run an under-18s night from the shop. I categorise it as alternative to the mainstream.
“We started off having a bit of chew, nothing major, but over the last six months it has escalated.”
She said there was a gang of 30 to 40 youths, boys and girls, some believed to be as young as 10. Silver said she had also been threatened with a broken bottle.
As well as the assault on her son Martyn, her daughter Elizabeth, 13, has also been attacked.
“She was beaten up about four weeks ago on the Riverside Road. She was beaten by a girl. She was walking away and the girl was going ‘Fight me’.
“Racial abuse is high up on everyone’s agenda but when it comes to people who dress differently nobody is bothered.
“Why should we have to change the way we dress just because some people don’t like what we are?
“At the end of the day it is only music and clothes.”
PC Debbie Morgan, Stockton’s minorities liaison officer, said: “We take all forms of hate crime extremely seriously. All incidents reported will be investigated fully. We are working closely with Silver to stop this problem re-occurring.”
You can visit the shop website in Stockton-on-Tees below.