Move Along, Move Along

When police arrived at the Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention on May 12 they found around a dozen fans belonging to two rival groups involved in a bitter exchange outside. The convention’s hosts, members of the Norwich Star Wars Club of the University of East Anglia, had refused entry to some fans from the rival Norwich Sci Fi Club.

The BBC reported this story under the misleading headline “Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention” even though the fuss was far below the standards of the Jets and Sharks, and also wasn’t triggered by conflicting allegiances to sf franchises.

Jim Poole, treasurer of Norwich Sci Fi Club, entered the convention “in good faith” to ask two actors to autograph a Doctor Who signature diary that will be auctioned for charity. After approaching Doctor Who actor Graham Cole, Poole was asked to leave the convention. He and organizer Richard Walker exchanged words inside before taking their dispute outside. Walker accused the other club of trying to undermine his convention with comments posted on Facebook.

Police came because a caller told them  a man was being assaulted inside the convention. When they reached the scene they found the two groups carrying on. Officers asked Poole to sit in a police car while they interviewed the participants. Then police reviewed security video footage and confirmed there was no assault. They warned both groups and left.

Afterwards the chair of the Norwich Sci Fi Club (to which Poole belongs) minimized the affair in a statement on the group’s website:

The press reports of a major brawl at the local Star Wars Event at the UEA on Sunday May 12th have been massively misreported and exaggerated.

There was a “minor” verbal altercation between a member of the Norwich Star Wars Club (NSWC) and a member of the Norwich Sci Fi Club (NSFC). Police were called to prevent any escalation and this was so. The 2 members of the NSFC who entered the UEA event did so to obtain 2 signatures for a Diary that is to be auctioned off for good causes.

The press would have you believe that there were 12 people all brawling outside the event and chaos ensued and this was clearly not the case.

Both groups, shook hands at the end of the matter and have both agreed to put any differences aside and to work together for good causes.

Nothing but good fannish fun, you see?

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

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6 thoughts on “Move Along, Move Along

  1. Robert, the original BBC web story I sent to Mike made the situation out to be just a little further down the line to ridiculousness than Mike reports above: he dug further into it whereas I just sent him a link with a sardonic comment. That’s the difference between what we do — I send him tips, but he does actual journalism, for which he deserves thanks.

  2. I read the BBC link, but was not certain as to why it all began. These things happen, but have the police ever been called to a SF convention? I can recall Police at a Philcon, but not for fightening.

  3. I recall police at the 1969 Philcon. Hotel was not happy about room parties. The one I was attending, hosted by (I think) Lin Carter, was shut down by police with dogs.

  4. There was one also in the mid seventies that got the same police and dogs, but was started because a drunken preteen was seen wandering the hotel.
    What I was wondering aimlessly, are the larger media cons more prone to “riots”? Probably less than a Shriner’s convention, or a Gun show. The facts are not in.

  5. Robert – there are tales of hotels requiring large mundane organizations to have massive property damage insurance policies. From what I’ve heard hotels that regularly host traditional SF cons may think us odd (and for any number of good reasons) we’re fairly harmless.

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