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.”
“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.
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:
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.