The Star of Bethnal Green: support your local riot-damaged pub

Monday August 8 was riot day in Bethnal Green. It was the school holidays and it was hot. Mario Denotti, 35, is the general manager of The Star of Bethnal Green, which was right at the epicentre of the trouble, and came to east London from Sardinia.

"We didn't board the place up because we didn't know anything was likely to happen - the police didn't say anything," he explained, standing beside the bar in his well-proportioned pub on Bethnal Green Road, which is still marred by two enormous broken windows. "The first thing we heard was when our IT guy came downstairs and said there was a rumour on Twitter that some people would be coming down here that evening." You can follow the pub on @StarBethGreen.

"It all happened between 6pm and 9pm. There was a massive crowd of kids around outside and then all our customers ran away. We started to see a really tense situation and then decided to close the doors. There were hundreds of kids but the first thing that happened was when the police arrived.

"The kids were shouting 'fuck the police', like gangster wannabes, and then they started throwing things. They smashed the Halifax bank over the way, though the police were trying to defend it. And Tesco, and the money lenders down the road.

"It seemed a bit unfair that the police were defending the bank, when it could afford to change a broken window - there was no one inside. There weren't very many police though, by comparison with the number of kids: about ten of them.

"There were hundreds of people throwing stuff and that stuff was going everywhere. But the windows of this place didn't get smashed until much later: the glass is soundproof so it was very strong. It was four kids walking past after the main trouble was over.

"I didn't leave this building for days after that happened, because I live here and because I had to make sure no one came in through the broken windows to steal. I didn't even go out for milk and wasn't feeling very safe - I thought they might come back and smash in the window that was cracked. That night we had three bar staff who couldn't get out to go home. One of them had a girlfriend in Stratford and it had kicked off there too.

"We've got two smashed windows and the money from the police is not yet on its way," he said, looking sad.

"I never thought that this thing would happen in London, where everyone leads such an honest and beautiful social life. Back home we use batons, tear spray and even bullets in such a situation. But then in Italy there is a fascist background.

"The worst thing was the police: can they not control a group of kids? They should have given them a glass of milk and send them home. The police were letting them do it.

"We lost four days of business because no one came out of their houses for so long afterwards and, to be honest, now when the money for the windows comes through I will have to decide what the best use for it is, as we need some work doing on the plumbing. We don't need fancy tables or anything."

If you'd like to do something to show your support for the The Star of Bethnal Green you could go in for a drink or some food. Mario would be very pleased to see you.

The Star of Bethnal Green is one of the 350 or so pubs in the database of 24hourlondon.

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