By Lachlan Markay
“Occupy Wall Street” protesters claim to be fighting for the disenfranchised members of Main Street America. But their protests are exacting a significant toll on businesses in the cities where they have set up camp.
Oakland has been hit hardest. A week after “Occupy” protesters there rioted, vandalizing local businesses and clashing with police, city merchants say their sales are down by as much as 60 percent. “People don’t want to come downtown,” one business owner near the epicenter of the city’s protests told Mercury News.
“Things were good before the protests began,” the manager of another local establishment said. “Now it’s going to be hard to pay the rent.”
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“People have lost 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent of their sales,” said another.
The violence and vandalism that have sprouted up at “Occupy” protests nationwide are, quite simply, not good for business. While much of it is incidental, a number of businesses perceived as hostile to the protests have been targeted with criminal acts.
Whole Foods Market in Oakland, for instance, had windows smashed and its exterior otherwise vandalized and spray painted.
But the damage done to Whole Foods pales in comparison to what two San Diego food vendors were forced to endure at the hands of “Occupy” protesters there.
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A pair of Southland street cart vendors who were forced to shut down their businesses after “Occupy” protesters vandalized their carts are hoping to get some help from local residents…
Coffee cart owner Linda Jenson and hot dog cart operators Letty and Pete Soto said they initially provided free food and drink to demonstrators, but when they stopped, the protesters became violent…
“Both carts have had items stolen, have had their covers vandalized with markings and graffiti, as well as one of the carts had urine and blood splattered on it,” said Councilman Carl DeMaio. [Emphasis added]
Unable to do business under such conditions, both carts have closed shop.
Meanwhile, at Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the “Occupy” movement, protesters have taken to threatening and occasionally assaulting business owners and managers who will not comply with their every demand. The New York Post reported on this troubling exchange:
“I’ve been told, ‘Watch your back!’ 10 times,” Stacey Tzortzatos, owner of Panini & Co. Breads, located across from Zuccotti Park, told The Post yesterday.
She and her employees are terrified by the constant threats, which she said began after she demanded the protesters stop using her shop’s restroom as a place to bathe every day.
The final straw came about two weeks ago, when the demonstrators broke a bathroom sink, flooding the shop, and clogged the toilet–setting her back $3,000 in damages.
Another New York occupier flew into a violent rage when a nearby McDonalds refused to give him free food. He ripped a credit card machine from the counter and threw it at an employee.