OK Cafe Attacked by Police

Article published: Saturday, April 16th 2011

At about 1:00am last night (15 April) a group of around eight police officers attempted to forcefully enter the OK Café on Liverpool Road, Castlefield. MULE reporter Tim Hunt witnessed the events.

Inside the OK Cafe

Much has been made about police tactics during peaceful protests over the past week as the inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson continues and the High Court ruled that the tactic of kettling was unlawful at the G20 protests in London. However these investigations appear to have had little effect on day to day policing, with officers frequently acting with impunity and outside of the law. Last night was no exception.

At around 1:00am a group of eight officers turned up at the OK Café opposite the Science and industry museum, claiming they had had complaints about the noise (environmental health visited an hour later and assured party goers and the police that there was no problem with noise levels). Those on the door refused the police entry to the squat, as was their right under Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act and those outside attempted to negotiate with the officers.

The officers stated that they would leave the scene if all those people outside, mainly smokers (it’s a non smoking space) and the few of us who had been to fetch supplies, would enter the premises so as not to disturb people in neighbouring buildings. This seemed a fair compromise.

At this point the situation very quickly escalated. As the door was opened a number of police officers rushed the door. Those on the inside massed behind the door in an effort to keep the police out, who, under Section 6, were now illegally attempting to enter the building.

The police failed in their bid to enter but during the mêlée one officer began to shout that his foot was caught in the door. Instead of officers helping to remove his foot more began to try and force the door open. At this point the situation turned from a drama into a minor crisis. At least two officers drew there battons and more police began to arrive at the scene.

One officer began to use his weapon to smash the windows around and in the door while three more officers continued to try and force their way inside. Another officer with his weapon drawn faced the revellers still standing outside the venue.

After two minutes ro so the officers realised that their attempts to enter the building were coming to nothing. The reinforced glass around the door wouldn’t go through and there were enough party goers inside the keep the door from opening. At this point more officers had arrived at the scene there were now around twenty police officers in five five vehicles, including one with police dogs. Liverpool Road was shut down.

A stand-off ensued for around five minutes, until a more senior officer arrived. Shortly after he appeared at the scene the majority of officers were ordered to leave. He acknowledged that the squat party was within its rights to continue and the incident was over.

However the polices attempts to enter the squat tell only half the story of their decent into illegality.

As is common now in circumstances such as these people began to film the incident on mobile phones and other devices. Unfortunately due to the light, or lack of it, the majority of devices were rendered useless – my smart phone included. However one man on the scene did have phone with a light and continued to record after others had given up.  This man captured not only the mêlée at the door, but also an exchange between two officers and myself which occurred during the standoff following the police’s failed attempt to illegally enter the building.

I was standing a few feet away from the door attempting to record sound and images and give a commentary of what was happening into my phone. At this point an officer, with an aggressive tone and manner, asked me to leave the scene, I said I was a journalist and recording the events and well within my rights to do this. A second officer then stepped forward and asked me for ID: I flashed my National Union of Journalists card and stood my ground. The first officer then told me, “It’s just a bit of plastic its worth nothing here. ”

When I refused to move again the second officer began to push me down the steps. There was no reason for this attack, other members of the public were standing all around the police officers and no formal cordon had been made, I had broken no law and I was not causing an obstruction. It felt like intimidation pure and simple.

As I stumbled down the steps after the pushes from the officer I noticed that the incident was being filmed. 30 minutes after the incidents I found the man, John Charles Goratto, and recorded a short interview with him.

“They threw my camera onto the floor just because I was filming. The footage got erased because the policeman threw the phone and then stamped on it, it was totally erased by the police action. It doesn’t work, they broke my phone,” he said. “I felt the police were being very brutal and acting in a very uncoordinated way, with the excuse that the foot was shut in the door which was absolutely rubbish. This whole thing was a massive travesty of justice before our very eyes.”

He added that he will be making a complaint to the police on Monday, as will I.

More: Manchester


  1. One reveller likened this to a group of “scallies trying to crash a house party.”

    I was going to pop along but the outright class discrimination is not the kind of environment I wish to be around.


    Said with love xxx

    Comment by me on April 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm
  2. One reveller likened this to a group of “scallies trying to crash a house party.”

    I was going to pop along but the outright class discrimination is not the kind of environment I wish to be around.


    Said with love xxx CM

    Comment by CM on April 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm
  3. Good write up tim.
    For me (having been arrested a few weeks ago for swearing), it was the verbal abuse we recieved from the oficers that got me the most.
    “get the fuck back, fuck off,” etc etc. the officer who was smashing the window was the one who pushed the door guy up against the wall to intimidate him.
    Next time: cameras and sound recorders.

    What a lovely force we have

    Comment by huw wahl on April 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm
  4. […] after some police vandalism last night we have once again we been cookin away, cafe in the day from 12 & meal around […]

    Pingback by Saturday 16th | on April 16, 2011 at 7:44 pm
  5. Your article is incorrect – kettling has not been deemed to be illegal. It remains legal but only where there is/has been/is likely to be a breach of the peace, and it was held that this was not so during the G20.

    Kettling has been previously held to be lawful when warranted and this has not changed.

    Just to clarify.

    Comment by ZZ on April 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm
  6. Actually ZZ, the High Court ruled that the current practice of “Kettling” is “Unlawful” – there’s a difference between unlawful and illegal. It breaches the fundamental principles of Common Law which which is actually more significant underpin all of our civic freedoms, above any legislation. Killing someone could be ruled ‘Lawful’ if there was reasonable justification (i.e an accident or in complete unavoidable self-defence or defending the well-being of others). The basic act of Kettling under most circumstances should be considered unlawful.

    Comment by DavidSalford on April 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm
  7. […] OK Cafe Attacked by Police  —   MULE […]

    Pingback by Daily Blog 04/16/2011 | Spinneyhead on April 17, 2011 at 12:31 am
  8. It is quite possible that the data on his phone was not erased even if the phone is broken.

    Comment by James S on April 17, 2011 at 12:50 am
  9. David,

    Kettling is no more illegal or unlawful than it was this time last week – the High Court ruling does not rule out kettling in all circumstances, only where it cannot be lawfully justified.

    Small difference but I think a lot of people now have the impression that all kettles will be automatically illegal, when this isn’t the case.

    Comment by ZZ on April 17, 2011 at 1:12 am
  10. http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/957.html

    As I read it, the judge says that the police were lawful and proportionate to clear the camp at the G20 and that is the past and in the future containment would still be legal but that it was not on this occasion at the G20.

    Comment by ZZ on April 17, 2011 at 1:23 am
  11. However one man on the scene did have phone with a light and continued to record after others had given up. This man captured not only the mêlée at the door, but also an exchange between two officers and myself which occurred during the standoff following the police’s failed attempt to illegally enter the building.
    It would help if you could provide a link to this recording.

    Comment by Sam Deedes on April 17, 2011 at 2:18 am
  12. For future reference, it’s worth checking out an application called Qik, available for most smartphones. It records video whilst simultaneously live-streaming it to a website where it is also saved. This means you have a partial video even if your phone is broken during filming, and safe evidence if your phone is confiscated after you finish filming, or if you are forced to delete your recording.

    Comment by Denny on April 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm
  13. The data on the phone can be recovered. It may not be easy (depending on the level of physical damage) but will not impossible.

    Comment by chris on April 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm
  14. CM/me – don’t take one random person’s comment to represent the whole cafe, that’s daft!

    Comment by Bob on April 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm
  15. their decent into illegality


    Good write-up, btw.

    Comment by Dwight Towers on April 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm
  16. Dear BOB thanks for your input. Please consider the following:

    That nobody challenged the person who said this at the cafe. That someone felt comfortable enough to say it openly at the cafe & that this paper felt it was a ‘witty quote’ to sum up the mood at the cafe – and also that this reporter/paper felt that comfortable enough to publish a discriminatory remark – That is the full picture for you.

    Think about it.

    I did.

    It’s been removed now anyways.

    Much love for the removal & social inclusion instead of social exclusion which adds to the problem of our quite literally ‘poor’ disaffected youth.

    We all make mistakes sometimes and it’s been rectified so it’s all good.




    Comment by CM on April 18, 2011 at 9:27 am
  17. CM,

    I want you to know that at an OK Cafe meeting last night the safer spaces policy (http://okcafe.wordpress.com/about/safer-spaces-policy/ have a read) was discussed as was the responsibility of everyone to implement it, and thinking of better ways to make this happen. The cafe has been set up as a place which is to be inclusive and as a place where everyone can participate. This means that there are people with all levels of knowledge and experience involved, and people learn and grow along the way with the project. This obviously means that occasionally mistakes may be made, and constructive comments and discussion is encouraged to help make it work. This is a learning experience for a lot of people, which is surely a positive thing. It would be a shame for people to write off a project like this because of one comment from one person, as challenging discriminatory attitudes is key aim in the environment the OK Cafe hopes to create.

    Why don’t you head down to the cafe and share your views, it’s all of our responsibility to help each other. The space is non-hierarchical and fully collaborative, and I think you’d find yourself welcome and the cafe fertile ground for discussion and action. One comment does not a community make!

    I hope you will give it a chance.

    Sorry for the long post…

    Good article, would like to see a follow-up on the results of the complaint!

    Comment by AC on April 18, 2011 at 11:44 am
  18. a one sided report if I have ever seen one!
    how possibly could a foot be removed if it was stuck in a door, without opening the door further to alleviate the situation?
    is the premises a cafe or a home?
    if it is a cafe as it states, you cannot use section 6!

    Comment by thebear on April 18, 2011 at 11:53 am
  19. Not bad, interesting read, but your prose and spelling could do with improving.

    Comment by Matt on April 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm
  20. re: AC

    Thanks for going to the trouble of making the statement below.

    It’s appreciated.

    I agree co-operation works by a kind of ‘trial and error’ & dealing with issues as they are raised. That is what you have done & that’s all any reasonable person can expect.

    That you would make a public statement is commendable & shows more than goodwill from the cafe to be all inclusive.

    Thanks also to Mule for revising the article.

    I will come along and taste some food soon.

    Thanks again to you both.



    Comment by CM on April 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm
  21. I wonder why there is not date on this article? It says published April 2011. It’s a bit weird for the article to open with “At about 1:00am last night…” – which last night? How did you get an NUJ card? That was a joke I’m sorry I do like this website a lot really 😀

    Comment by Helena Mercer on April 20, 2011 at 9:32 am
  22. Stoke better hammer City in the FA cup final or else there will be trouble.

    Comment by MJ on May 2, 2011 at 3:31 am
  23. Don’t be goddamn selfish noisy

    Thats the conclusion chaps

    Comment by zip on June 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

The comments are closed.