Fearing more riots, businesses board up

January 9, 2009 7:24:35 PM PST
The Oakland business owners whose windows were smashed during the riot on Wednesday are trying to protect themselves, just in case violence erupts again. Some are so concerned that they are keeping the boards on their windows.

One business owner described the mood as that of a "bunker mentality." Many of the businesses that did not suffer damage along 17 Street decided to put boards up and plan to keep them there for a while, at least, as a method of self-defense.

A sign that reads "You broke our glass, but not our spirit," says it all for merchants along Oakland's 17th Street. Many of their businesses, like the boutique owned by Ellen Taylor, were damaged in Wednesday's riot.

"It's so depressing. It reminds me of hurricane aftermath. We're open, we're here, we want to thrive," said Taylor.

Taylor's boards cover a broken window, but many others have boarded up as well as a precaution against more violence.

"Protection, scared of people coming back again and vandalizing our business," said psychic reader "Anthony" when asked why he boarded up.

While 17th Street boarded up, a group of kids spoke up about the shooting of Grant at the Fruitvale BART station New Year's morning.

"The way we help this city understand what we want is we express ourselves," said protester Gabriel Faoulkner. Still, Oakland police stood close by, just in case things changed.

Most of the protestors were students from the Oakland School for the Arts, housed at the Fox Theatre, which lost five huge windows to the rioting amounting to about $20,000 in damage.

Asked if the protests will continue, Faulkner responded, "It will. It will for weeks, for months, how long as it takes."

"I'd like to take them (the boards) down today, but I'm concerned that as this experience plays out and more decisions are made regarding indictments and such, this could occur again," said Taylor.

Despite the boards, merchants want the public to know that they are open for business. Some worry that the longer the boards stay up that it will keep customers away. Others say they will wait to see what happens next and whether the district attorney will file charges against the BART officer involved in the shooting. The process could take weeks, and merchants say they will keep their boards up as long as necessary.

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