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Oakland Businesses Take Stock Of Damage Following ‘Occupy’ Rampage

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A damaged Men's Wearhouse storefront near Oakland City Hall, November 3, 2011. (CBS)

A damaged Men’s Wearhouse storefront near Oakland City Hall, November 3, 2011. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Business owners in downtown Oakland were assessing damage Thursday morning after a mostly peaceful daylong protest by Occupy Oakland turned destructive overnight.

Windows were smashed and graffiti was painted on numerous storefronts. Some vandalism also occurred in the daytime, when some protesters damaged several downtown bank branches and others broke windows and painted the word “strike” in large white letters on the Whole Foods off of Grand Avenue.

The grocery store was shut down after the vandalism, which happened shortly before 3 p.m.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman said Thursday morning that the store reopened for business on its normal schedule at 8 a.m., but that extra security was on hand Thursday.

“Everything’s getting cleaned up,” spokeswoman Jennifer Marples said. “It’s in pretty good shape, there’s only one window boarded up at this point.”

Some Occupy Oakland members themselves are helping clean up graffiti and replace smashed windows at downtown businesses Thursday.

An Occupy Oakland member who said his name is Ronald told about 40 people during an impromptu meeting in Frank Ogawa Plaza Thursday morning, “I apologize for the people who own businesses” that were damaged.

Ronald lauded the “powerful” march on the Port of Oakland on Wednesday evening that shut down the port, but he said the movement was harmed by a small group of people who became violent.

Ronald said he thinks the people who caused the vandalism are “angry young men who don’t know how to deal with their aggression.”

He said the violence “solves nothing.”

Another man who spoke to the group said the violence that occurred “was completely unacceptable.”

“It is our responsibility to watch what a few anarchists are doing and stop them in their tracks and stop them from running wild,” the man said.

Most businesses in downtown Oakland were open Thursday, including banks that closed their doors on Wednesday.

But Tully’s Coffee at 14th Street and Broadway, which had its windows smashed and was marked with graffiti, was closed.

Rite Aid and Burger King, which are located at the same intersection, are open but are marked with large graffiti message that says “Smashy.”

Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president Joseph Haraburda said business owners are still in the process of assessing the damage.

He acknowledged that the protesters responsible for the vandalism don’t necessarily represent most Occupy Oakland participants.

“You’ve got some people with legitimate concerns, but (the protest) is being taken over by the wrong element,” Haraburda said.

He said the violence runs counter to all of the positive things that have been happening downtown, including the installation of the new bronze monument “Remember Them,” the renovation of the Fox Theater, improvements to the Lake Merritt area and the opening of new restaurants.

“I just breaks my heart to see this happening when there are so many good things going on,” Haraburda said.

While Haraburda acknowledges that many of the Occupy Oakland protesters want peaceful protest, not violence, he would like to see their encampment in Frank Ogawa Plaza disappear.

Noting the camp’s “overflowing porta-potties, the stench, the rats,” he said the cumulative effects of the encampment and related protests are dissuading new tenants from moving into the area.

He said three prospective tenants, including one eyeing a 35,000-square-foot space, pulled out of lease negotiations because of Occupy Oakland.

“What we need to have happen is to have the mayor and the City Council start acting with the responsibility that they’re supposed to have to bring order to the city,” he said.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Haraburda also questioned whether city residents will support Measure I, an $80 parcel tax measure now before voters, in light of all the money the city is spending dealing with the protests.

“How does the average citizen in Oakland feel about approving a parcel tax when they see the city squandering money?” he asked. “It’s insane.”

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Thousands of demonstrators protested peacefully downtown then marched to the Port of Oakland on Wednesday, but a contingent later clashed violently with police when a group occupied a vacant building on 16th Street early Thursday morning.

Police said those protesters were hurling rocks, bottles and flaming objects at officers. Dozens of protesters wielding shields were surrounded and arrested. Police fired tear gas and beanbag rounds into the crowd.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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