Oakland vows to help vandalized businesses

January 15, 2009 6:52:51 PM PST
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced Thursday evening the city will hire a private security firm to help police during marches and demonstrations. The mayor made that pledge to business owners dealing with the cleanup costs from the recent demonstrations.

People walking to work Thursday were surprised to see a few windows in downtown Oakland boarded up, the result of several acts of vandalism following Wednesday night's march.

Amanda Almonte owns a flower shop which suffered some damage. She says while the march was peaceful, police should have done more to protect businesses.

"I'm surprised they just didn't say, 'ok it's 7 o'clock, everyone go home, this is it,' cut it off right there and also they should have been barricaded," Almonte said.

While Wednesday's demonstration saw fewer acts of vandalism, some businesses on 17th Street in Oakland are worried there may be more riots depending on how they investigation into the BART shooting is handled.

Dellums met with business leaders Thursday afternoon to reassure them there will be financial help for those whose stores suffered damage, as well as more police action.

"I'll be meeting with the police chief to talk about how we deploy as diligently and as effectively as possible so there is an appropriate patrol capability so hopefully these things don't happen again," Dellums said.

Those businesses with broken windows will receive 2,000 from the city.

Angela Glover Blackwell is a community activist. She says Oakland's image will not be tarnished by the acts of a few people.

"A few people did things that made us all sad, embarrassed, sorry, but the big story is that there was a disciplined march on multiple occasions with lots of people around a simple message, 'justice has to operate here,'" Blackwell said.

Already other neighborhood shopping districts in Oakland are stepping in to help downtown businesses recover.

Related link:
THE BACKSTORY: Support for Oakland's 17th Street merchants