Gangs at war in struggle for flyer pitches
(11.07.2011)

The 15-year-old boy stood silently, one hand holding a cigarette and the other pressed upon his head to staunch bleeding, as the police car approached, its lights flashing.

At 6:30pm yesterday, a man had rushed over, smashed the boy’s head three times with an iron bar before disappearing into the startled crowds at downtown Lujiazui area.

But to the boy, who hands out advertising flyers, the assault from a competitor is a routine occurrence.

The Sichuan Province native, surnamed Hu but known as “Yellow Hair,” is one of 200 or so workers hired by small or illegal travel agencies to hand out flyers on the city’s Metro and streets.

Competition is fierce among groups representing different agencies, each eager for a share of business from growing numbers of tourists.

Hours before Hu was assaulted, police said they detained flyer gangs fighting over a pitch.

Although officers claimed no one was seriously injured in the incident, witnesses told Shanghai Daily that some carried iron bars and three people were hospitalized.

“Two groups that really hate each other, one from Jiangsu Province and the other from Hubei Province, fought at the entrance of Metro Line 2 Lujiazui Station, said Hu.

“They fought with iron bars and some had knives. The fight attracted a big crowd,” he said.

According to another flyer distributor, Liu Lei, 19, many fights take place.

But as many workers are not covered by medical insurance and are doing illegal jobs, most do not report incidents to police after getting injured in fights, Liu said.