London neighborhoods increasingly ‘off-limits’ to journalists

By Jean-Paul Marthoz/Senior Advisor on May 11, 2010 5:45 PM ET

Life can be bumpy on Britain’s campaign roads. On May 3, Jerome Taylor, a “home news” reporter with the London daily The Independent went into the Bow borough of East London in order to look into allegations of widespread postal voting fraud. His bloodied nose and face appeared in the next day’s Independent.

While walking in the streets on his way to interview a candidate, he was suddenly accosted by a band of four to six teenagers who asked him for his notebook. When he refused, they punched him, knocked him to the ground, and brutally hit him with fists and feet and a traffic cone, he reported. The violence ceased when a neighbor was brave enough to confront the attackers, he said.

Taylor, whose beat at the Indy includes the coverage of ethnic and religious communities, knew the neighborhood well and had rarely felt threatened. However, due to the level of drug-related violence, the paramedics that treated him told that they rarely went into the area without a police escort.

Taylor was not attacked at random. He was not a stranger that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was targeted because he was a journalist and his assailants appeared to have links with one of the local candidates, according to The Independent.

In London, as well as in some other European big cities, some neighborhoods—like the Paris banlieues—are increasingly off-limits for journalists, “red zones” where a press card, instead of opening doors, turns their holders into punching bags for gangs that do not want the media sniffing around. 

In Taylor’s case, the attackers beat up a journalist who wouldn’t be deterred—he went right back to the story. As Guardian media columnist Roy Greensdale commented: “It shows his guts that, in the end, he did manage to speak to the man he was seeking to interview about the alleged fraud—and whose house he was outside when attacked.” 


No surprise, the third world has been imported and whilst we may report anything that may point out these things in those terms, it offends the P.C. brigade 'liberals'. Those in the front line, be it Ambulance, Fire, Police or journalists will always be at risk, but that risk is increasing will the ghettoisation of large areas in towns and cities accross the UK.

While not directly related to this case I would just like to ask why the police aren't the ones investigating this case of voter fraud.
I used to live in Bow about 10 years ago and feel like police disinterest in crime by young people has played a large part in how Bow is today.
I called the police once myself upon witnessing youth crime and while they seemed very interested in who I was, right down to giving me a grilling on why I was in the area (it was 6pm and I was walking home, hardly a criminal offence), they showed no inclination towards actually deal with the teenage gang. The excuse being "Well they will probably have gone before we get there", which might have made more sense if they hadn't first wasted rather a long time grilling me and also if I hadn't literally been about 50 meters from the police station. The teenagers concerned were placing fireworks in bins so they they exploded as people passed by and several people were lucky not to be hurt.
Fairly minor to the police may but it is a slippery slope! I'm very glad I don't live in Bow now as it sounds like they have given up altogether!

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