As reported earlier on Mission Local, a group of around 75 protesters met in Dolores Park Friday night and proceeded to march east on 18th Street toward 16th and Mission streets, in reaction to an incident on Thursday in which a plainclothes police investigator shot and injured an armed 22-year-old parolee.
The shooting happened on 14th Street near Natoma when an officer pursuing the suspect fired two shots after the fugitive drew a Tec-9 semiautomatic weapon, according to police reports.
The message of Friday night’s protest was anti-police, but in addition to throwing a bottle at officers and smashing in a window at Mission Station, protesters vandalized some neighborhood businesses, among them Farina, Live Fit gym, Wells Fargo and the US Bank.
In the Mission, it is not new for businesses to be affected by protest-related violence. On April 30, one day before the Occupy movement’s May Day protests, demonstrators damaged more than 30 businesses and restaurants in the neighborhood.
Live Fit gym, on Valencia between 17th and 18th streets, incurred an estimated $2,500 in damage on Friday when a protester shattered its windows in six places. Some of the broken glass flew into the gym, which was still open for business.
Owner Patrick O’Brien has been in business with his parents on Valencia Street for the past 15 years, and doesn’t understand why Live Fit, which has been open for five years, is a target for vandalism. Protesters also caused around $2,000 in damage during the pre-May Day protest. O’Brien believes that, in addition to the direct monetary impact, these occurrences frighten customers.
Live Fit also offers chiropractic services, acupuncture and massage therapy. “We are not corporate at all … Many people think of us as a wellness center,” O’Brien said.
“Vandalizing [Live Fit], especially given that it is a family-owned business, makes no sense.” O’Brien concludes that simply being so close to the police station makes his gym a target.
Farina restaurant on 18th Street was also affected by both protests. Opened in 2007, the restaurant now has a second location, a pizzeria, on the corner of 18th and Valencia streets. General Manager Lorenzo Lecce said that on Friday night protesters threw a chair, table and paint at the front window while customers were inside eating, costing around $5,000 in overnight cleaning fees. He said that cleanup from the protests in April cost twice that amount.
“I’m here because I’m running a business … I cannot agree with the people who come and protest us. I want to stay on the side of the business,” he said. “I don’t really believe I deserve something like that.”
Phil Lesser, vice president for governmental affairs for the Mission Merchants Association, said: “The outfall is that a small group of people use this as license to destroy private property and also deface the police station. There is nothing positive about it.”
District 9 Supervisor David Campos agrees, and echoes a familiar sentiment within the community that the protesters are neighborhood outsiders — although that’s hard to verify, given their elusiveness.
“We suspect most of the people involved in the vandalism don’t live in the neighborhood, that they are coming from other parts of the Bay Area,” said Campos. “We want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate it, and take all necessary steps to prevent it.”
One way Campos hopes to do this is by working with Supervisor Scott Wiener and Capt. Robert Moser of the San Francisco Police Deparment to make sure businesses have the necessary resources if this happens again, although exactly what those precautions will be remains to be seen.