Anarchist bookshop in Whitechapel targeted in “firebomb” attack

Freedom Press book shop was victim of an arson attack in the early hours of Friday 1st February.

Freedom Press book shop was victim of an arson attack in the early hours of Friday 1st February. - Credit: Archant

A “firebomb” attack on an anarchist bookshop in Whitechapel last week led to a blaze tearing through the store, damaging thousands of books.

Police have launched an arson investigation after the fire at Freedom Press, which stocks anarchist books, pamphlets and newspapers.

Hundreds of people turned out over the weekend to help with the clean-up operation after the blaze ripped through the shop in the early hours of Friday morning.

Andy Meinke, who is one of the bookshop’s “coordinators”, said staff believe the culprits are likely to have been members of far right groups such as the English Defence League or the British National Party. The store, which first opened in Whitechapel High Street in 1969, was targeted in a similar attack by right-wing opposition in 1993.

“No-one’s claiming responsibility for it yet, but we’ve obviously got radical politics and have campaigned against groups like the EDL in the past”, he said.

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“We spent the weekend having a massive clean-up”, he said.

“A lot of people came who we didn’t even recognise after word spread on the internet.”

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Police confirmed that nobody was injured in the fire, but said an investigation had been launched and officers were treating it as “suspicious”.

The shop re-opened on Monday, but said at least 500 books had been damaged beyond repair, while “several thousand” had been damaged from the smoke.

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