Businesses and Protesters Occupy a New Oakland Downtown

The General Strike of Wednesday November 2, 2011, was an epic day for Oakland. But what would have gone down in history as one of the largest ad hoc mobilizations in history was later derailed by an outrageously violent police response to the occupation of a building adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza and concurrent vandalism to some businesses in the immediate vicinity.

Since then, one of the issues most reported on by media in regard to the encampment has been the economic impact on local businesses, especially small businesses in the area. Last Thursday night, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce’s Joe Harraburda claimed that Occupy Oakland was hurting local businesses. He also made claims about several businesses that had decided not to relocate or set up shop in Oakland, but he provided no data or evidence for his claims [meaning they can’t be taken seriously as anything but rhetorical devices].

Nevertheless, local and national news media have picked up on Harraburda’s narrative. As I wrote recently, Oakland Tribune’s Josh Richman, a guest on KQED’s the California Report, used Harraburda’s city council commentary to suggest that Occupy had hurt local businesses—again, with no evidence.

On Monday, prompted by these attacks and a really horrendous, but nevertheless influential, San Francisco Chronicle report, I interviewed and talked to several small business owners and their employees in the plaza and area—including the two oldest businesses in the area, Ratto’s and Delauer’s. Though by no means a scientific survey, my interviews were much more extensive than those of the Chronicle, which interviewed only the owners of one business and the Chamber’s Harraburda for their downtown business weather-check. Notably, I checked the Chamber’s member directory and found none of the businesses I spoke with there. Even B, the restaurant highlighted in the Chronicle piece, is not on that list. Indeed, I found few, if any, small businesses from Downtown Oakland on the 94612 zip code roster at all. The Chamber represents the large business and corporate interests of Oakland, not those of small businesses.

The experiences of these business owners are as varied as the members of the 99% movement itself, but one thing they all agreed on was the dismal economic history of the area. Elena Durante-Voiron, who owns and runs a one hundred and fourteen year old family deli, described the last few years as an economic “rollercoaster”.  Delauer’s, the famous Broadway newsstand, which was run by the same family for over one hundred years until recently, came dramatically close to shuttering its doors more than once in 2008. Abdel Al Banna, who took over the historic newsstand shortly after with a partner, said that he had “suffered” over the last few years. “Its been a hard time,” he said.

These economic travails have continued, despite a supposed economic plan by former Mayor Jerry Brown that failed to attract loyal corporate business. The Gap across the street from the plaza closed down a few years ago. Walgreen’s moved into the space, leaving a large crevice on the West side of Broadway that has yet to be filled.

The elephant in the room of Occupy Oakland reporting is the fact that the city is experiencing a relentless economic slide, where the unemployment rate is officially 16%–nearly double the national average. Recent reports suggest that some fifty percent of those most recently on unemployment no longer factor into the official unemployment numbers because they’ve exhausted their benefits, so the number is quite a bit higher without a doubt. Add to this furlough days from the city’s administration which represent several hundred unfilled seats in local eateries and coffee shops. In this light, the odd conclusions contained in the Chronicle piece, which categorizes the high rates of poverty and unemployment in the area as one minor factor in the unstoppable hemorrhage of downtown Oakland, are ludicrous.

Within the context of a downtown beset by institutional levels of disenfranchisement that affected business long before the Occupy movement began, experiences and opinions about Occupy Oakland amongst local business owners I talked to are surprisingly diverse. While the media are concerned with extremes, there are businesses which have experienced no difference in their receipts since the Occupy movement began. According to employees at Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in Frank Ogawa Plaza–which was notably mentioned by the city administration as under siege by OO protesters–there has been no difference in business there. The counter help at IBD, a sandwich shop across the street from the plaza, also scuttled the idea that business had been impacted, agreeing that nothing had changed.

I expected Elena at Ratto’s to complain about a slump in business because of almost weekly demonstrations from Ogawa to the jail just a block or two from her deli and sidewalk café on Washington Street. But she said there had been no effect, perhaps because the protests occurred after her closing hours. While she had experienced a decline of about 8% from the previous month, she was careful to note that this was an actual decrease in the rate of decline from August to September, when it was 12%. In her view, the sales decline was a product of other factors, those kinds of unpredictable and unexplainable things that small retail businesses struggle with from one month to the next when they try to reconcile and forecast their sales.

By contrast, Abdel at Delauer’s, told me that business had never been better; “more people, more business”, he said matter-of-factly. Basil, Abdel’s brother, on the other hand, who runs the Plaza Café in Frank Ogawa Plaza, had experienced a steep decline in business, which he attributed to fear of customers from offices adjacent to Ogawa about entering the plaza. But he also noted that business had never been good since he began running the café seven months ago. The losses of October–almost fifty percent–had lessened now that people were becoming comfortable with the occupation, and he reasoned that it would return to normal, and perhaps improve even more, as that comfort level rose with the secure reestablishment of the camp.

But Basil is an adamant supporter of the plaza camp, anyway. “I feel that I’m one of the ninety nine percent… I agree with these people.’ Basil also said he’s supportive of the diverse nature of the camp, including homeless members. “It’s our fault they’re homeless,” he argued. And contrary to many assumptions about plaza business owners, Basil said that the plaza is actually calmer now than in previous times. “…Kids getting off school would come and hang around the plaza, scream and throw chairs at each other…but now with all these people around, they’re not doing that kind of thing anymore.”

Obviously, none of the business owners I talked to were happy about the vandalism that followed Wednesday’s General Strike, and no one would expect them to be. But everyone I spoke to was very positive about the General Strike itself, and the march to the port, both in terms of the enormous business the teeming human flow created and the symbolism of shutting down corporate America for a day.

Nick, at Uncle Willie’s, a barbeque joint on 14th street at the epicenter of the march, said “it was one of the best days” in their six years of doing business there. “We supported the people and people came in here and supported us,” he said, describing how he and other employees stepped out to cheer on the marchers, and how marchers came in to the eatery, stuffing money in the tip jar for staying open the whole day. There were even more rewards after the shut-down, as hungry marchers cleaned the restaurant out. “We sold out of everything.”

Jesus at Burrito Express, a block up the street, agreed and described a line out the door of the eatery. And even Basil’s struggling business had one of the best days in its history. It was, in Abdel’s view, “the best day in the history of downtown Oakland” from a commercial standpoint.

What hysterical reporting about the damage to business obscures, is that Occupy Oakland and neighboring businesses are becoming interactive players in a new downtown Oakland dynamic—one where residents, businesses, workers and campers continue to develop into a remarkable, unique and unprecedented community. The business sector of this community has varied opinions about the evolution. Some business owners, like Elena, remain supportive of overall goals, but feel that the encampment has outlived its usefulness and protesters should find a new method of protest soon. Others have no complaints whatsoever; still others are enthusiastic, despite feeling as if they’re losing business in the bargain.

One thing seems clear: the construction of this new downtown community is something that the Chamber of Commerce, police and Mayor’s Office, all of whom have failed downtown over and over throughout the years, are not involved in. Though they do dabble in trying to destroy it from time to time.

This writing I’ve been doing is part of a larger project with the goal of documenting the history of this unique and unprecedented movement. If you’d like to support this project  feel free to visit and contribute to my kickstarter campaign

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41 thoughts on “Businesses and Protesters Occupy a New Oakland Downtown

  1. This goes back to what Jane Jacobs used to call “eyes on the street.” She meant that people, any people, populating a potentially desolate area, were always a good thing. Activity is better than no activity, and the smart businesses will make the most of it.

  2. Excellent work. Such a shame that even our local news outlets are such lazy sychophants. Same old sensationalized bullshit playing on class/culture war rhetoric. I love the line “Why pick on the city that’s down?” in the SFGate article. As if Oakland is “down” by happenstance. Could it be that institutional factors have played a role in Oakland’s being “down”? Factors that were in play before October 10? Nah, must be those violent, dirty “outsiders”.

    • I wouldn’t call it a sample. I wrote that it wasn’t scientific, but that it was certainly more rigorous to have 5 interviews [and 2 informants], than one interview and the director of the chamber of commerce. Funny thing about rigor, you have to sometimes scroll past the third paragraph to actually do the rigor thing. I actually spoke to two more people–one who declined being the interview, although the person had been recommended by a regular customer. And another who I didn’t include because the person seemed uncomfortable with the attention and didn’t want to give a name with their response.

  3. It is a very interesting article-I’m a small business owner two blocks away, and I only know one small business owner who is entirely pro-Occupation any more. So I’ve been curious who the Occupiers kept on citing when they said that there were positives associated with the Occupation for downtown Oakland business.
    Only objective critique-in your second to last paragraph you mention the different positions that small business owners take towards continued Occupation. Your spectrum ranges from Elena’s ambivalence (which I have come across a lot, as workers/residents try to reconcile their support of the Movement’s original goals with some of the uglier consequences of continued Occupation) to extreme enthusiasm. You are ignoring the negative end of the spectrum-I know for a fact that there are a lot of people who have puts years of work and love into rebuilding/rebranding Downtown who feel they are watching their hard work slip away.
    Main subjective critique: “an outrageously violent police response to the occupation of a building adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza and concurrent vandalism to some businesses in the immediate vicinity.” This is what offends me the most about the Occupation-the refusal to accept responsibility for a large number of its member’s radical and often violent perspectives and, on Wednesday, acts. I was here as an unbiased observer throughout the day, I saw the leaders barely contain the violent members at Whole Foods (they were even wrestling on the ground!), and I was at 16th and San Pablo, watching dozens of people scream insults and at times physically assault a resident who was trying to dismantle one of the roadblocks Occupiers built. Yesterday I saw a huge Violent Revolution sign in the middle of the Occupation. I watched the police watch what happened at Whole Foods from across the road, and they kept their distance from Frank Ogawa throughout the day. But at 11.30 pm there were literally hundreds of people going nuts in and around Frank Ogawa, and I am sure the destruction would have been much worse had the police not arrived. I think that the Occupation would carry much more credibility with me if it accepted responsibility for this sizeable minority of its members; I find it insulting that every Occupation member that I talk to says, “it’s just a handful of anarchists, nothing to do with us.” I can tell you firsthand that there was a huge amount of violence building in the Plaza well before the police showed up!!!!

    • I’m happy to respond. There are some assumptions that you make and others make that I think are worth addressing because they’ve become an ingrained focal point of criticism. In the first place, I can assure you that the police response predated the making of barricades and the coming out of the woodwork of aggro people intent on vandalism. Reports came about half an hour after the occupation of the building that the police were coming down en masse, they had been spotted massing hours earlier.

      As for other acts throughout the day, there’s still no evidence that all of the people that committed them were aligned with Occupy Oakland. They could have been anyone, although that by no means excuses people who may be substantive members of the movement. I’m very sympathetic to the annoyance and anger at the actions. While I’ve spoken to several people who defend the tactics in theory, I’ve not actually met anyone who did them, which makes me wonder. A lot.

      That being said, nothing justifies the response of the police. Keep in mind that if the police hadn’t come, the outcome would have been the occupation of an empty building that has no commercial value, and that I can assure you was in a dilapidated state with water damage throughout. It could not have been rented any time in the near future. It would have been a pretty quiet night after midnight if police hadn’t come, the building would be used to get people out of the rain and as a dry place for reading, study and conversation and perhaps some place where water could be boiled regularly.

      As for my respondents. I wanted to speak to the two oldest businesses in the area, Delauer’s and Ratto’s. I wanted to speak to businesses in the plaza. And I wanted to speak to businesses on the march route on Wednesday. In terms of whether or not the people at those businesses would have been supportive of OO, it was a pretty random sample in that nothing could have predicted their response, although I was fairly certain that Delauer’s was benefiting, one of the first things that Abdel told me was that his brother in the plaza was not, and so I made a point to interview. Going into that interview I had no idea how he would respond.

      I don’t argue that there aren’t businesses that dislike the OO, that also doesn’t mean that their opinion is more extensive or more important than those who don’t have a problem with it. Lots of businesses have absolutely no problem with OO. The fact that there are some that do isn’t the most important thing in the universe to me, although it seems to be to mainstream media. I’ll tell you that the owner of a local newspaper for dog lovers pulled up to the curb yesterday and dropped off a ton of goods and food, including her newspaper, which she was happy to take credit for. And I have quite a lovely dog adoption story that took place at the camp about half an hour earlier which I’m sure she’d love to hear.

      In any case, you saw a huge amount of violence, I saw a bunch of idiots pushing over trash cans and yelling at others once they found out the police were on their way. Afterward, the level of property damage increased, but the vandals never posed any danger to human beings, nor are there any documented injuries.

      Here’s a thought. Come and volunteer an hour in the kitchen chopping vegetables or serving people. They need a lot of help so if you show up at any time they’ll be happy to take you on. After an hour, tell me what you think about the majority of the people in the plaza. Seriously, I’ll be here. Drop me a comment in this box.

      • Good responses, nothing like a good dialogue, much appreciated!!

        Bronwyn, I did think it was really noble of the leaders who stopped the violence at Whole Foods, and have never meant to suggest that there aren’t great people with great intentions involved in the Occupation. My point was simply that I am sick of Occupiers saying the “we’re not violent, it’s just a handful of anarchists!” From my experience, it is in fact a deepset and fundamental part of the Occupation Movement, and the Movement would carry more credibility with me if it accepted and addressed this, rather than dismissed it.

        Harun, I do actually think that business has picked up again after the decline of the first few weeks of Occupation. Oaklanders are tough, and used to chaos. I’m not complaining from that angle. Although I also think that it is short-sighted not to consider the longterm affects to Oakland’s image-I feel that most economically aware people would agree that outside investment is an important part of a region’s economic success, and it intuitively does not make a lot of sense to me how continued unrest and uncertainty in Oakland will attract future investment. Nobody wants their windows broken. Beyond that, I have reached out to every Occupation outlet I can find in search of meaning behind the cause, and I am already talking to the Local Business Liaison.

        Jaime, your assertion that the Occupiers were forewarned of the coming of the police, and that that is why they started building barricades makes a lot of sense-I kept asking the idiots why they were building them, but they had a mob mentality by then, and no one gave me a sensible answer. But when you say “In the first place, I can assure you that the police response predated the making of barricades and the coming out of the woodwork of aggro people intent on vandalism,” it sounds like you are saying that nothing bad was happening before the police showed up, which is simply and totally incorrect. I left work and went to take a look at 10.30/11ish, and found barricades under construction and the aforementioned scene where the mob was screaming and abusing the homeowner trying to dismantle the barricade. I stuck around for a bit, trying to help, but it got too intense, so I went back to work (after chasing some Occupiers down the street to retrieve my garbage bins, which they were stealing for their barricade), and got there at about 11.30, just in time to see the police vans pull up. If, by “police action”, you mean that the police were gathering somewhere else in anticipation of possible violence, then that makes sense. I don’t destroy property and build barricades when I hear that the police are around, but I guess some people do? But if you mean that the barricades went up after the police arrived, you are simply incorrect. The huge fire, the worst of the vandalism, true, but it was happening/building for at least an hour before police arrived.

        I have no issue with your contacts in your article-as I said, it’s really interesting to hear some stories of local businesses that are still pro-Occupation. But I’ve heard Occupiers complaining ceaselessly about the bias shown towards them by the media-I’m just pointing out that your article, by failing to mention that there are businesses who are anti-Occupation, is not much better.

        In closing, is it true that, after everything, the Occupation used Wells Fargo? For me, this is the nail in the coffin. If a Movement is going to go to (and cause) all the trouble that Occupy has done over the last month or so, you would think that they would have taken the time to come up with viable alternatives to the big banks. I’ve been searching for a clear cut message from the Occupation, and the WF thing (if true?) seems conclusive evidence that there isn’t one any more. Right to free speech, assembly, organization, protest-awesome!!!! I can (and am!) fully behind them. But as for your suggestion that I come and volunteer, I appreciate it, and if I had no job or other activities, I would-I know for a fact that there are a lot of beautiful people in the Occupation, and a lot of beautiful moments. But for me, I will save my time for my own passion of environmental conservation, or for volunteering in a homeless shelter-clear cut activities with clear cut goals. The only cause I can see associated with the Occupation any more is whether a bunch of people have the right to take over a public space in the middle of a City that I love. This, for me, is totally not worth fighting for.

    • de lauers, pizza man, sf pizza, radio, ruby room, disco volante, kamdesh afghan restaurant, feelmore 510, everette and jones, Vitus, pizzaola, grandlake theater are just a few and many more support the ongoing encampment and have been doing very well because the occupation. There is a local business liason/ working group and we would love to meet you and address some of the concerns you have.

      you can reach me at promoharun@yahoo.com if you would like to meet up.

      Harun.

      • I traded some emails with the working group and their larger set of canvasings wasn’t very different than mine. Thanks for the extra info.

    • You know, you saw those leaders wrestling on the ground in front of Whole Foods trying to defend the store, and you see a negative, you see lack of responsibility taken by the movement.
      In my experience, exposing oneself to physical harm in order to defend someone is a pretty strong act of responsibility. It also seems to me to be a fairly strong expression of disapproval for the window breaking. I’m not proud of the incident, but I think anybody could be proud of the people putting their bodies on the line to protect Oakland businesses.

  4. thanx for this article. I work in downtown and have spoken with many small businesses which are locally owned. They are all in favor of the encampment and are also saying they’ve never done better.

    I appreciate the article.

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  6. Your line of argument is a bit laughable. You exclude the businesses who have reported declines to other news outlets, and you keep arguing that because Oakland was already doing poorly, it doesn’t really matter if it’s doing more poorly now, and that either way Occupy can’t be blamed for it. That’s BS. It’s not good to make a poor city poorer. How does that help the struggling? If you want to complain about the 1% and aren’t willing to exclude the violent in your group, then go Occupy where the 1% lives, like Woodside or Tiburon.

    • I find the logic of this kind of argument perplexing. I interviewed about ten people for this piece, of which seven or so wanted to go on the record. Unlike the Chronicle writers–two of them–who interviewed one business owner and then made a call to the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and then pretended that they were reporting on a trend. At no point did I actually claim to a scientific evaluation of the business community’s feelings about Occupy.

      More importantly, I included the criticisms of the movement, and interviewed people who’d lost business and gained business, showing that the reality is much more complex than it seemed. Some businesses are truly thankful for the presence of the camp, perhaps only because they’ve staved off bankruptcy for another month in a depressed shopping district that was thrown to the wolves long ago. Others don’t blame the occupation for their current decline, and still don’t like it, as I wrote.

      Most importantly, as a human being trying to stay under a roof myself, I did the best I could under the circumstances. I spent four hours interviewing, then several more hours listening to the interviews so that I could quote people accurately, and another few hours writing and editing.

      Unlike the Chronicle writers, who basically wrote the worst researched piece on anything in the history of journalism, no one paid me to do this. You’re welcome.

  7. OK -so some sandwich shops did okay the day of the Street Party (aka General Strike), that’s nice. But branching out a bit, how’s Men’s Warehouse and Walgreens doing? How ’bout that Dry Cleaner that was vandalized that day, what did that owner think? How has Occupy Oakland impacted the other shops and stores, mostly sole proprietorships and mom-and-pop run businesses? What about the places that have had to lay off workers, or the employers, like mine that honestly are concerned about employee safety and transit disruptions caused by Occupy Oakland?

    I give you credit for admitting that you didn’t bother to interview anyone from a Chamber of Commerce business, being open about the focus and biases of an article is a good sign. But it might be more helpful to discuss impacts on the business more with the owners rather than the employees. The receipts are what pay wages, not the extra cash shoved in the tip jar one day.

    • As I noted, I interviewed ten people, and notably I didn’t interview chamber of commerce because few if any of the businesses they represent are mom and pop businesses. I wrote that pretty clearly. As I said to someone else, I find it hilarious that I–who have absolutely no budget and don’t work for a newspaper–am getting the criticism for not being thorough enough, when the Chron interviewed just one business owner and called it a day.

      There is a working group at the camp that’s meeting with local businesses, I’ll be happy to report what they find, though from what I’ve seen it won’t be too different than what I’ve reported.

      • wanna give you a high-five for all your footwork! not just for this article, but for the rest of what you’ve been writing as well. keep up the great work.

      • Fair enough – what you take as criticism was meant more as an observation on the narrow scope of the article. The irony is that this blog post is being used by others to counter the Chamber of Commerce’s criticism of Occupy Oakland, using your words to claim that Occupy benefits Oakland’s businesses in general.

        I’d be curious if you do choose to move your scope beyond the sandwich shops what you hear from other Mom-n-Pop type stores in the area around Frank Ogawa Plaza, not just ones focusing on food service. Oh, and don’t sell yourself short, you write well.

    • Why would I interview anyone from the Chamber? They don’t represent anyone I talked to, none of those businesses are listed in their directory, not even B. They’ve done nothing for those businesses and now they pretend to speak for them. Ask yourself why you think the Chamber should speak for local business. You’ll soon find that you have no good answer. I’d follow that question wherever it may lead, as it will, to other empty authority figures that have no legitimacy.

      I’m pretty sure now that you’re trying to misrepresent what I’ve written, since I only spoke to two employees and the rest were business owners. Its okay; you can waste your time any way you like.

      • Why interview other businesses? I don’t know, maybe to get a broader perspective on the impact of Occupy and its activites on businesses in Oakland. I mean, wasn’t that part of the point of posting this article in the first place, to counter the image presented by the Chamber of Commerce that Occupy has a purely negative impact on Oakland businesses?

        Why would I think that a Chamber of Commerce would speak for local businesses? How about because like any association, their purpose is to represent their members? One of the points that you do make in your original article is that the Oakland CoC seems to be made up of larger businesses and doesn’t represent the small mom-n-pop sandwich shops and restaurants that you mostly interviewed. But my main point, which again you missed, is that your snapshot focused so narrowly that it doesn’t really provide a counterpoint to the CoC mantra that Occupy is hurting business in Oakland.

        I’m honestly not trying to misrepresent what you wrote, not at all. But I have pointed out the limited focus you chose in writing. If you interviewed more than a few owners, then your article didn’t make that clear. I don’t know who Nick at Uncle Willie’s is, or Jesus at Burrito Express – if they’re the owners then you could have said so. On the other hand, while you cite “the employees” at Saigon saying they did okay during the occupation, when I had lunch there the other day the owner said much the same thing.

        Feel free to ignore criticism if you want, but sometimes it can be helpful to hear a different perspective. That’s why I followed a link to read what you had written and took the time to reply. We may disagree on some things, but we do care about Oakland.

      • I was the first on this, I had limited time and resources. Because of that, I targeted biz that were diversely situated and would have different opinions. Unlike, people who have more time, like Chronicle reporters, I did a much more in depth and well sourced article.

        The points I made have been echoed since in the East Bay Express:

        1. That businesses even in the plaza had differing and often positive views of occupation.

        2. That Chamber and downtown Oakland assn. are run by giant developers and real estate orgs, and represent interests of large corporations, which are often counter to those of the small biz everyone purported to care about.

        Also, #oo created a committee that went out and canvassed businesses. They were very thorough, much more than I could be as they relied on several members working over a period of days and collaborating to compile data. Their work is sourced in the EBE article as well. Enjoy:

        http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/the-one-percent-solution/Content?oid=3042119

    • I don’t claim to speak for the dry cleaner who got hit with vandalism, but as for Walgreen’s and Men’s Wearhouse? Why would you lump them in with the dry cleaner’s and “mom-and-pop” run stores? They’re not Oakland businesses just because they have storefronts in Oakland and therefore shouldn’t be treated as similar to locally owned business.

      I can answer your questions about Walgreen’s and Men’s Wearhouse, though. Those businesses are doing just fine. Sales reports indicate that Men’s Wearhouse sales jumped 22% in the second quarter of fiscal year 2011 (source: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2011/09/08/sales-soar-at-mens-wearhouse.aspx) and Walgreen’s (which is the largest pharmacy retail chain in the country, ie hardly local) has experienced a 7.1% increase in sales on the whole for fiscal year 2011 according to their shareholder report (source: http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/WAG/1512485780x0x513852/74B4B167-0B5C-46D3-A0A4-6435CEC99183/WALGREENS_2011_AR.pdf).

      In terms of whether or not Men’s Wearhouse actually supports the Occupy movement, well, to me that’s debatable considering I’ve heard no executive or spokesperson from the high-ups at that company speak to that effect. Shutting up shop and sticking a 99% sign in your window, therefore, looks more to me like they were just hoping not to get looted rather than actual support.

      As for the actual sole proprietor businesses and “pop up” shops in the downtown area, well, that’s a mixed bag as Jaime has stated and restated. An excellent article on the subject can be found discussing exactly that on Oakland Local (http://oaklandlocal.com/article/small-business-owners-speak-out-occupy-oakland%E2%80%99s-impact).

      One last bit and then I’ll stop: Bronwyn, you have to get yourself out of this head space that Whole Foods is a socially responsible company simply because they sell a lot of organic produce. The fact is, they are virulently anti-worker and aren’t worthy of anyone’s respect. I’ve been involved in union organizing drives involving Whole Foods in the past and personally I think it would be easier to organize a Wal-Mart… Oh yeah, that and they threatened to fire anyone who called in sick on November 2nd.

      • This is for “x” since for whatever reason there was no reply link below their post – Fallacy of authority, my friend… Of course their PR department is going to say that.

      • I’m not sure why WOrdpress limits responses, nor how to change it if it can be changed in some hidden setting somewhere, so apologies.

      • Uh, Hi Tom, nice pseudonym.

        I mentioned the stores that were vandalized during the Occupy events, the ones who have to pay for the damage done. Somehow Occupy Oakland didn’t think to take some fo the $20,000 they deposited at Wells Fargo to use to help repair the damage done.

        The links to national sales reports were cute, but they avoided the point I was making – what impact has Occupy had on the sales at those Oakland Stores on Broadway? I’m not really surprised that executives have kept quiet about occupy – their stores are literally hostage to what little goodwill there is within the occupy movement. Even now with the camp closed there’s still the potential for riots to spring forth from Occupy related events.

      • Tim – lol Thanks for the compliment I suppose, but nah, I’m not going to use my real name on any website where what personal information I share is beyond my control…

        At any rate, the sales reports are relevant insofar as they demonstrate that they’re not Oakland businesses… They’re corporations. To conflate those with, say, Radio I believe is erroneous and the fact that they’re corporations is a factor since one store closing a couple of days a year won’t make a dent in their business. And I did address your point about locally owned business in the downtown area, though I must admit I’m somewhat confused as to why you’ve gone from discussing downtown businesses to businesses “on Broadway.” That’s what the link to the Oakland Local article was supposed to address…

        While we’re at it, could you define “riot” for me? So far, I haven’t seen one at any Occupy Oakland event… To be fair, you did use the word “potential” so I guess give some ground here. Then again, they also have the “potential” to spontaneously turn into unicorns.

        Jaimie – No need for apologies. You didn’t write the software, lol.

  8. Excellent work, good sir. I figured there was a bit more nuance to the economic impact of the occupiers downtown, and you have done a great job showing some of it. If you would like to collaborate some time on some reporting, I would love to help, as I have some ideas that may be of interest to you. Keep up the good work!

  9. When I’m surrounded by people who have acted violently and shown willingness to destroy the property of people who disagree with them, I tend to pretend I agree with them as well. Especially if you speak to me “to document everything” and without letting people talk anonymously. If you don’t talk about vandalism and graffiti, you’re not really telling the story.

    I’m not impressed.

    • I did mention vandalims and grafitti. Here’s how journalism is supposed to work. You have a set of facts, you state them as accurately as possibly. The order and emphasis with which you do that is up to the judgement of the journalist. I don’t find the fact that some business owners dislike the encampment and have experienced worse business, in their view, more important than the fact that others like the encampment and seem to claim they’ve had better business. And I don’t find the grafitti and vandalism from one day out of thirty, more important than everything else that has happened there. As for your claim about the intent of the informants, no one can know that. If you assume that some are motivated by fear, as you state, then you must also realize that others are motivated by self-interest. Who knows why people say things. I don’t, and I didn’t claim to. Rather, I expressed what they told me as accurately as I possibly could.

  10. As a recent & hopefully future resident of Downtown Oakland, who has also seen, experienced & helped at OO, my own observations tally with Jaime’s. I know & love ‘my’ part of Oakland. I am on a first name basis with my former neighbors from the vets living in half way houses [and the streets] to young families, old timers & my local business owners of all kinds. I wanted to know, for myself, how OO is impacting the folks I care about. I joined these folks in preparing for & surviving the Oscar Grant demonstrations ,expected to become full scale riots that never materialized. [Incidentally, community spirit led in part by local business owners had a great deal to do with averting the conflagration we feared] .I joined this community in celebrating small triumphs & ‘homemade’ festivals & celebrations as well.
    I was surprised, frankly, at the enthusiasm & support of the many more than 5 business OWNERS I informally interviewed myself about OO. My casual stats are the same as Jaime’s. Further, as a familiar & trusted face, I enjoyed the advantage of getting ‘straight talk’ & easy access to actual owners. They know I have nothing to gain by asking & no agenda. I am not a journalist but as an educated & informed writer I do know the basic tenets of good journalism. Jaime follows them. as does Oakland Local. The Chronicle & other MSM did not.

  11. Pingback: An article & a separate survey prove that #OccupyOakland does NOT have negative impact on downtown small business - Occupy Oakland

  12. Pingback: Occupy and the morality of resistance « LITTLE BROTHER LIVE

  13. Pingback: “Losing money” doesn’t cut it anymore

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