Walnut Creek merchants prepared for protest

July 19, 2010 7:40:33 PM PDT
A lot of people in Walnut Creek are wondering how their town got dragged into the Johannes Mehserle-Oscar Grant controversy.

Businesses in the area near the Walnut Creek courthouse took no chances Monday in anticipation of a protest supporting former BART officer Johannes Mehserle that drew hundreds to the area.

Those with business at the courthouse were turned away at the parking lot and all court proceedings stopped at noon. Prisoners in the holding cell were taken away by a sheriffs van as police began preparing for whatever the afternoon would bring.

Officers canvassed the neighborhood for rocks and anything that could be used as projectiles.

The owners of one dry cleaning business boarded up their windows and hired security guards to patrol their property.

"I feel for the victim's family and I feel for the other side as well, you know it's not a clean cut situation," David Shahvar said.

Shahvar owns the Buttercup Grill, which is right next to the court parking lot. The restaurant closed early and let workers go home with the food already prepared for the day.

"They're nervous and the customers, that's the reason we have no business because our customers told us they're not coming in today," Shahvar said.

Shahvar decided to stay behind and protect his restaurant.

Most of the businesses around the courthouse also closed for the afternoon. Workers at the feline clinic took their computers home, just in case of looting. The nail salon next door was also dark.

But Tullio's restaurant had no plans to shut down.

"We just don't know what's going to happen, but we have faith it's just going to be a calm demonstration or calm rally," Nancy Giannini said.

Many residents of Walnut Creek say they do not understand why the demonstrations are being held in their home town.

"Walnut Creek wasn't a part of it; Oakland was all part of it, Berkeley, Oakland seems more of the urban area where...for me, Walnut Creek is so not the right place," resident Lynne Marshall said.

Merchants breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the day as the protest, although loud, was peaceful.


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