Thursday, May 3, 2012

San Francisco or bust!

San Francisco, hère she comes!  Or so she thought as the plane landed in South San Francisco.  Soon to meet her  friend Alan in Berkeley and her niece Marina,  Marash Girl had a barrage of phone calls:  I didn't want to tell you, Marina called to say, but today is the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Ladin's death -- I'm so glad to know that you've landed safely, but I've been stuck here on the Carneras Highway for 45 minutes, and I still have an hour to go to get to the airport.  Not to worry, said Marash Girl, as she breathed a sigh of relief and went to call Alan to warn him that they would be late for their luncheon appointment in Berkeley.  But Alan was full of news himself:  Today is May Day, and the Occupy Berkeley group is planning a demonstration!  As a result the ferries have been shut down, and the bridges are heavily guarded by bridge patrol, with only the Golden Gate Bridge open to traffic.  I'm leaving town at 3:30 -- I don't want my car windows smashed.  Marash Girl thought Alan was exaggerating but heeded his words and rescheduled lunch for the following week.  In the meantime, Marina called to say that  19th Avenue going through San Francisco was heavily congested, and that there were cops on the Golden Gate Bridge and officers with binoculars on all the overpasses.

Marash Girl happily got her bags, thankful that she had arrived safely despite the anniversary of Bin Ladin's death and the celebration of May Day.  
Marash Girl walked out into the California sunshine to await Marina's arrival and was greeted by the hills (which looked more like mountains to her) and fresh air, a welcome treat after 7 hours of airport and airplane air.
The ride to Sonoma was unendingly beautiful .  Marash Girl's only disappointment was that the Golden Gate Bridge was not golden at all; it was painted with red rustproof paint. (Photo to come.)

As it turned out, Marash Girl was very fortunate to have changed her luncheon date, as this is what she read in the San Francisco Chronicle the next morning:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 (SF Chronicle)
Trashed Mission District businesses want answers
Vivian Ho, Ellen Huet,Jaxon Van Derbeken

 Business owners in San Francisco's Mission District, cleaning up after a
night in which protesters damaged more than 30 stores and restaurants and
vandalized cars, questioned Tuesday why activists had singled them out and
why police hadn't done more to halt the rampage.
  Among those dealing with the damage were officers at the neighborhood
police station, where black-clad, masked activists threw paint and bashed
the front door Monday night.
  Even as they defended themselves from criticism that they had allowed the
vandals to run wild - one restaurant owner said officers even appeared to
be "escorting" the group - high-level police officials met to find a
better way to handle out-of-control crowds. Split from rally
  The protesters split away at 9 p.m. from an Occupy rally in Dolores Park
that was held in advance of Tuesday's May Day actions. Traveling down 18th
Street and onto Valencia Street, they smashed windows with crowbars and
signs, threw paint and eggs on buildings and spray-painted anarchy symbols
on the hoods of parked cars.
  "All I heard was, 'bang, bang, bang,' and some dude had the valet sign,
trying to break our window," said Adam Koskoff, manager of the Locanda
restaurant on Valencia. "I didn't even see the crowd, and I ran outside
and got egged."
  The vandals damaged restaurants, bakeries and clothing stores, along with
at least 17 cars on Valencia and Guerrero streets. An expensive Aston
Martin had its windshield shattered, but the protesters damaged everyday
cars as well.
  At the Mission police station at 17th and Valencia streets, pink and
yellow paint was thrown on the barricaded glass doors, which someone
cracked with a hammer or similar weapon.
  "It was like the station was under siege," said an officer, who asked not
to be named. Just one arrest
  Mission station Capt. Robert Moser said the vandalism had "unfolded
quickly," and that 100 to 150 people had been involved.
  One person was arrested on suspicion of a vehicle code violation and
resisting arrest, Moser said. He was cited and released.
  Some business owners said that given the extent of the damage, the arrest
total should have been far higher.
  J.H. Kostelni of Farina restaurant on 18th Street said he had seen squad
cars at the front and the back of a group of about 30 people who threw
paint and eggs at his windows and overturned his outdoor tables.
  "It looked like police were escorting them," Kostelni said. "They didn't
stop them."
  Asked about the criticism, Moser said, "We wanted to ensure we had enough
personnel for public safety and for the safety of our officers."
  About 15 officers in riot gear stood guard in front of the police station
Monday night, as other officers moved up and down the street, documenting
the damage, leaving cards on defaced cars and speaking to business owners.
  Police Chief Greg Suhr said officers had been at the Dolores Park
demonstration before the violence erupted.
  "This was a splinter group," he said. "They broke into a run - that's when
they cracked out all the weapons and projectiles and they did all their
damage. They dispersed within 15 minutes."
  He added, "For us to mobilize to contend with a group of 100, especially
running, takes longer than 15 minutes. ... By the time they got to the end
of their run, there wasn't a group to arrest."
  The chief said he was consulting with his command staff to "formulate
contingency plans to make sure this doesn't happen again." Wrong targets
  Owners of vandalized businesses said they were hardly representative of
the corporations targeted by Occupy activists.
  "They're coming through the Mission, where there aren't any corporations,
just a lot of small businesses, which is what they're all about," Koskoff
said. "It doesn't make sense."
  Jeremy Tooker, owner of Fourbarrel Coffee, said a friend had stopped a
protester from smashing the glass storefront with a crowbar - and had
taken a hit to his arm. Someone else splashed paint on the window.
  "This just seems like they're frustrated with their impotency at this
point," Tooker said. "It's like, 'Look at me, I'm still here, I'm still
occupying.' "
  Although the march sprang from a rally for an Occupy action, other Occupy
protesters shunned its participants as outliers. Several said police must
have been to blame, including one man dressed all in black at Tuesday's
May Day protest in San Francisco, who gave his name as Banana Mouse.
  "I think it was infiltrators. I don't think it was Occupy," he said. "They
(the police) were instigating."
  Some business people, however, said Occupy bore responsibility for the
  "Occupy is saying it's not them, but we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for
Occupy, now would we?" Michelle Horneff-Cohen, a real estate broker, said
as she surveyed the broken window of her workplace, Property Management
Systems. Mayor 'shocked'
  Mayor Ed Lee, who returned to the city late Monday from Seattle, said
damage from the vandalism amounted to "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
  "I was really shocked at the damage that was done, not only to the police
station, but to the small businesses in and around that area," Lee said.
"The people who hide themselves behind Occupy and then do that kind of
damage are really - it's disgusting to see that. ... I think those
individuals need to be found."
  By Tuesday morning, business owners had boarded up or replaced shattered
glass storefronts and had power-washed away egg splatters and paint
spills. Some were preparing for what might come next.
  "We might have to self-police this place," Tooker said. "I don't want
anyone getting hurt, and we can handle broken windows. But if anything
more serious happens, we might have to close." Vivian Ho, Ellen Huet and
Jaxon Van Derbeken are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Twitter:
@VivianHo, @EllenHuet., and San Francisco Chronicle staff writers John
Coté and Marisa Lagos contributed to this report. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2012 SF Chronicle


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