Yesterday at 1pm, I finally bit the bullet and arranged for the front of my store to be boarded up. And I was right on time evidently, as the Mehserle verdict was announced three hours later and the Mischief Makers started causing problems in Downtown Oakland just as it began to get dark. I was watching the news when all three of my contact phones started ringing. It was my alarm company calling. I had to get up and go to my store at 10pm last night because "your glass break sensors have gone off and have been comprised." Here we go. On my way, I saw small groups of people on the street hanging out. I even saw one guy carrying a pipe. When I got there, there were a dozen police officers in riot gear standing by, the psychic guy was outside, some local business owners were on the corner, and another store owner was guarding her property. They gave me the full story: Apparently, a small group used M100s to try to blow open the coffee shop (aka marijuana dispensary) across the street from my store and the vibration triggered my alarm. Created broken glass for some and anxiety for me. I so resent this.
Before The Verdict: When other store owners on the street began to panic last week and started boarding up their stores, I stubbornly refused. I ran my business "as usual" and shooed away the news reporters and news cameras that pounced on 17th Street en masse. (18 months ago, I got a threatening phone call after 17th Street got hit and I appeared on the news. I don't need that.)
My "kumbayah" stance faded quickly however and I closed my store early on the Friday before the 4th of July weekend since 17th Street looked like a war zone with boarded up windows and business owners were in fear passing out posters of Oscar Grant in the hopes that his image would actually make a difference to the Mischief Makers (I think not). I even had a flight attendant customer from another city comment on the tension in the air and she didn't even know what was going on.
This Week: Because I knew the verdict results would be coming in "any day now," I decided not to open this week. I resent
ed the idea that fear was being used as a weapon and I saw no point in hanging out in a charged environment. And then yesterday, I fought with my stubborn streak and boarded up my property. With floor to ceiling glass, the expense of replacing it outweighed my fear. Like I need another expense.
I am writing this blog post because this morning I saw some people on Facebook try to minimize the damage last night by saying that the media is sensationalizing the damage. And while they are known to do so, it's the casual attitude of the people that haven't been affected that irritates me the most. "Oh, they [the Mischief Makers] just started a few fires and looted a few stores. The media sensationalizes everything." You know what? Bite me. When you own a store and you start to operate from fear, then you can talk. In the meantime, STHU.
P.S. I am outraged by the killing of Oscar Grant and the unjust verdict. However, damaging property and ruining people's livelihoods is not and never will be the answer. I'm pissed.