Last Saturday's now-infamous rave in East Croydon made the national news with the tragic death of 15-year-old Rio Andrew and a viral story about a teenager who lost his finger and continued raving anyway. Much less has been written about the police response to the party, which took place in a disused Royal Mail sorting office. One girl who was there alleges that the cops weren't just trying to kill the good vibes – she claims that they were armed with batons and were beating up teenagers, including her 15-year-old friend.
We spoke to "Rachel", a 17-year-old from London who attended the rave with around 50 friends, some of whom knew Andrew. On the night of the rave, she found herself on the outside of the police cordon, which was erected to stop thousands of partygoers from entering the small venue. "Police were just hitting whoever they could with batons, one of my friends got beaten on her arms and back," she told Dazed. "She's only 15 and the attack left big red marks on her body.... They just didn't care who they hit."
Here, she describes the clashes with police officers armed with batons, including an attack on a 15-year-old friend:
Dazed Digital: What was the atmosphere like when you got to the sorting office? What were the police doing?
Rachel: We were some of the first people to get there, about 50 of us. As more people got there the atmosphere got more and more hairy as people tried to get over the fences and the police showed up with dogs. There was hardly any space to move and the police were being really heavy-handed. As people charged to try and get over the fence to enter the venue, police just ripped them off the fence and threw them onto the floor. They didn't care if people got hurt. Everybody got pushed against a fence by the police – my friend got thrown onto the floor by an officer and really hurt her back. I was struggling really hard, crammed against everyone. As people charged to try and get into the venue police were just hitting whoever they could with batons, one of my friends got beaten on her arms and back. She's only 15 and the attack left big red marks on her body, I'm not sure if there's bruising now. They just didn't care who they hit. The police could have handled it two different ways, either by demanding the organisers to cancel it as the police were aware of the rave a week in advance, or just let us in – the "rioting" only got worse because we wanted to get in.
DD: How long did you stay there?
Rachel: We stayed until 8.30am, right until the end. They started shutting down the soundsystems, floor by floor. First they shut the top floor and kicked every out and carried on doing the same all the way down to the bottom of the building. It meant that at the end everyone was crammed together in one room at the bottom.
DD: What was the age range at the rave?
Rachel: Most people were aged between 15 and 19. It was quite a young crowd, but that's been the same at all these raves held by these organisers. On the news they've been saying that there were a thousand people there, but there were a lot more than that. It isn't only people that travel from London to get to these events but people from outside the M25 and further.
DD: Aside from all of this, was the rave at all enjoyable?
Rachel: Overall it was frightening. I haven't been to one of these raves in ages because the last one I went to was just too full, everyone was stuck together. It's the second one I've been to, there's loads of hype about them. Once we got inside it was a good night but because of what happened with the police at the beginning and because my friends knew Rio, it's hard to look back and say "that was fun". I'm not sure that we'll go back if there's another one. I don't know if Rio knew he was taking ketamine or whether he was spiked, it's really sad.
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