OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – A waiter at a Downtown Oakland restaurant who was assaulted when Monday’s protest over the Trayvon Martin case turned violent spoke to KPIX 5 about the attack.
Drew Cribley and his co-workers stood outside the Flora restaurant Monday night, concerned about troublemakers after the restaurant was vandalized in an earlier protest.
“We have had a bad incident on Saturday night where they broke a bunch of windows so in a sense we were trying to deter people from coming back and smashing any more stuff,” Cribley recalled.
All of a sudden, a crowd showed up and the atmosphere turned ugly.
“That’s when I heard somebody banging on our windows, turned around and kind of pushed him off and said ‘Stop.’ That’s was the degree of our interaction, he turned around and cracked me in the head with the hammer,” Cribley said.
“I didn’t lose consciousness. I just went down on my knees and kind of held my face and I noticed right away that I was bleeding like crazy,” he said.
Restaurant staff posted on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon that “one of our own” was hit in the head with a hammer Monday night by “a masked, cowardly vandal” and assured patrons that the waiter was “doing fine” and that his injuries were not serious.
Staff said he was taken to the hospital and was released Tuesday.
The restaurant thanked the community for support, and lamented, “we are so sad and angry that the protests have turned this way.”
They said the establishment will remain open and continue to serve customers, and added, “We love Oakland, but we are tired of getting hurt.”
Phil Tagami, CEO of the California Capital and Investment Group, was at Flora, located at 1900 Telegraph Ave., on Monday evening for a benefit event to support Oakland businesses that were vandalized during previous protests spurred by Saturday’s not-guilty verdict of Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Flora’s building had windows smashed over the weekend, as did several other businesses.
After Tagami returned to the Rotunda Building at 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, he found broken windows and spray paint there and received a call from someone who said the male waiter who had served him at Flora had just been attacked.
Police arrested nine people in connection with the protests Monday night.
Oakland interim police Chief Sean Whent met with local business owners Wednesday afternoon to address property damage and other violence in the community as part of the protests.
Protests continued Tuesday night but we more subdued than previous demonstrations in the downtown area since Saturday’s announcement that a six-woman jury had found 29-year-old Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin in Florida in February 2012.
Cribley, who is also lead guitarist for the band Midnight Cinema, which is set to launch their first album at a concert in San Francisco next week. He told KPIX 5 that he hopes to make it.
“If anything, it will add a little character to the show to have the guitar player all bruised up,” Cribley said.
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