SF business owners brace for more protests

September 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
After two consecutive nights of vandalism in San Francisco's Mission District, police are trying a new tactic while neighbors say they've had enough. Local business owners are bracing themselves after vandals hit several businesses in response to a non-fatal officer-involved shooting in the Mission.

A police department spokesperson told ABC7 News they haven't of heard of any planned protests for Saturday. But a flyer circulating through the Mission Friday telling people to rally against police, has the department on alert.

Cell phone video posted online shows more than 50 people protesting down 18th Street Friday night, when it suddenly shows someone breaking away from the group, pushing over tables and throwing paint balls at a restaurant. The crowd continued onto Valencia Street where Live Fit Gym was another target.

"They hit us," Live Fit Gym owner Patrick O'Brien said. "Got our windows pretty bad, got three to four broken windows."

The protesters then encountered a strong police presence in front of the Mission Police Department. Officers were dressed in riot gear just as they were on Thursday night when an angry mob took to the same streets and vandalized the police station. Police say protesters began throwing bottles, paint, and even a large hammer at officers during the protest. One officer was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Rioters claim their actions are justified because of an officer-involved shooting Thursday night at 14th and Natoma Streets. Police say that suspect, an identified gang member, had a fully loaded TEC-9 assault weapon.

"If you have a problem with something that's happening there are proper ways of demonstrating, vandalism is not one of them," District 9 Supervisor David Campos said.

Extra police officers will be working in the Mission District Saturday night, just in case of a third night of vandalism. They'll be posted throughout the area, including up and down 16th Street. And because protesters also broke windows at the US Bank and Wells Fargo branches in the Mission, a security guard was standing watch outside Wells Fargo on Saturday.

Residents passing through the neighborhood can't help but look at the damage left behind, "This a waste of money and time and they're not proving nothing by vandalizing," said Mission District resident Ed.

Resident Ryan Alvaredo adds, "I'm kind of worried and scared because I don't know if they'll take it anymore than that, or where it's gonna go from there."

In addition to having more officers in the Mission, the police department has also issued a city-wide alert. That means any officer that's working should be ready with riot gear to help.


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