A small branch of the supermarket Tesco opened in Stokes Croft, a neighbourhood in Bristol in April. This was not a giant hypermarket, it was a Tesco Express, something like Apu’s Quik-E-Mart in The Simpsons.
Some residents in the area were horrified. They claimed that the new store would destroy existing small businesses, and that “big capitalism” was being imposed on them. Their opinions were not taken seriously, and the opening of the new store went ahead.
Those opposed to the store have this to say:
Within a week of Tesco opening its doors Stokes Croft has found itself the focal point of serious violence and confrontation. Over the last few years our beloved community has undergone an amazing home grown resurgence. We are therefore devastated that Tesco’s refusal to listen to what the majority of local people want has resulted in our vibrant, peaceful community being subject to such a sad state of affairs.
This “majority” decided that violence was the best method of enforcing their wishes, so they took to the streets. Their website goes on:
We are also deeply saddened to witness the reality that we live in society in which young people feel the only way to see justice done is to throw rocks. The reality is the government / corporations / media have created this society and are now trying to blame young people for the mess they have created. What future can we hope for if corporations are allowed to continue to dictate governments? If their insatiable appetite for profit is allowed to reign supreme?
Clashes between protesters and police left many injured and extensive damage to property, including to the disputed store.
What bothers me about this is that the protesters are either lying about their motives or they show an almost unbelievable ignorance of economic forces.
If they are truly in the majority, they could easily close the store down simply by not shopping there. The store would lose money, and Tesco, with its “insatiable appetite for profit” would close its doors and try again elsewhere.
But I suspect that they are not in any sort of majority and they wish to impose their political agenda on everyone else through the use of force. There may well be a silent majority of residents in the area who would appreciate the convenience of being able to buy reasonably priced goods at the new store, and the protesters are well aware of this fact.
This is morally indefensible and I hope the Avon and Somerset constabulary stand firm in their commitment to uphold the law.
What future can we hope for if a few malcontents are allowed to dictate, by violence and coercion, to corporations and governments?
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License