Last night on the eve of May Day, a rabble of vandals marched through San Francisco's Mission District, launching paint bombs at storefronts, smashing in car windows, and shattering the window of my favorite bakery, Tartine.
The SF Chronicle captures the reactions of devastated business owners trying to make sense of the destruction.
Jeremy Tooker, owner of Four Barrel Coffee, was wiping paint off his store's windows as broken glass crunched beneath pedestrians' feet. He said a friend had alerted him of the damage after stopping a protester from smashing the glass storefront with a crowbar - and taking a hit to his arm.
"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.' "
As Koskoff smoked a cigarette by the damaged Aston Martin, he said he didn't understand protesters' motives.
"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," he said. "It doesn't make sense."
"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 shivered next to the broken window of her workplace, Property Management Systems.
She said she had been dragged out of bed to deal with the damage. Although her company has insurance, she said, it will have to pay for much of the cost of repairs.
"I think it's [expletive]," Horneff-Cohen said. "We are the 99 percent, and this is [expletive]."
Democrats have thus far been at least loosely supportive of the Occupy Movement, employing the populist 99 percent language for their own political aims. But the cognitive dissonance revealed here—i.e. "We are the 99 percent, and this is [expletive]"— by the San Francisco small business owners who are spending their day dealing with damage to their property, makes me wonder if Democrats will continue to treat the Occupiers as political kin going forward into this year's election. I can't imagine that would be a good move.
Meanwhile, today in Oakland a group of about 100 protesters are busy harassing the banks. One of the protesters explains his motives thus:
"We are here today because capitalism has destroyed basic human need," said a 20-year-old protester who only identified himself as Connor.
"I am sort of into the libertarian/communist thing myself," he said. "I am an advocate of human need, not monetary need.
Libertarian-communism. Only in Oakland.