Berkeley Businesses Hurt by Council’s Anti-war stand

Posted on February 27, 2008. Filed under: Good News, Liberal Idiots, Military, Politics |

YES!! Make ’em pay for their anti-military stand!!!!!

Berkeley businesses feel pinch of weekly anti-war protests
By Kristin Bender and Doug Oakley
Bay Area News Group
Article Launched: 02/27/2008 08:07:17 AM PST

BERKELEY – People who are angry at city leaders for their anti-military stance are taking it out on businesses – canceling hotel rooms, restaurant reservations and theater tickets.

They are writing letters to the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce outlining their plans to boycott the city.

And they are steering clear of downtown shops because of the weekly anti-war protests that in recent weeks have become increasingly volatile.

Two weeks after the Berkeley City Council refused to apologize to the U.S. Marine Corps for calling them “uninvited and unwelcome intruders,” Berkeley businesses are feeling the backlash from people who don’t want to spend their money in the city.

“We’re hearing of folks canceling reservations and canceling hotel rooms and we know there is a direct correlation. How big, I don’t know. We’re in a tough economic period anyway,” said Ted Garrett, chief executive officer of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.

Garrett said the chamber has received an estimated 300 e-mails, letters and faxes from people upset about the council’s action and its refusal to apologize. “Folks are upset,” he said. “Unfortunately, they are blaming the businesses.”

Mo Hallaji, owner of Pollo’s at Shattuck Avenue and Addison Street, said his business has declined 10 to 15 percent this month because of the traffic jams and fighting associated with the protests.

“They are killing our business,” Hallaji said. “Everybody is against the war but that is not the right way to go about it if you want to accomplish something.”

Quentin Moore, owner of Berkeley Hardware on University Avenue, is not far from the U.S. Marine recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square, and the protests might be causing a downturn in his business.

“I see maybe two or three customers in here and maybe (the protests) are the reason,” he said.

CodePink, which held another rally Tuesday, has been holding protests since last fall while the group The World Can’t Wait got involved recently. They are becoming increasingly violent and volatile. Police have arrested five people recently, including two last week.

Also last week, protesters violated their city permit by moving away from the recruiting center and yelling through a megaphone.

“The downtown is like a full-time circus right now. There isn’t a day when we’re not hearing the drums and the noise (from the various groups). I think it’s off putting,” said Susie Medak, managing director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

CodePink leaders, who went to door-to-door Tuesday passing out sandwiches and pink window signs reading “Another Berkeley Business for Peace,” deny that the protests are impacting downtown business.

“If they want to blame the downturn in the economy on a protest against the Marines, it’s a pretty bad excuse,” said CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin.

City Councilmember Dona Spring also doesn’t view the protests as a problem. She said only the businesses on the same block are being impacted.

“Every anti-war group in the East Bay wants to come and protest. This is where the action is … ” she said.

On Jan. 29, the Berkeley City Council agreed to send a letter to the U.S. Marines calling them “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” At the same time, the council also approved a fee-waiver for a parking space and event permit for CodePink’s weekly protests.

Many were angered by the move that they viewed as anti-troop and anti-American. An estimated 30,000 e-mails were sent to City Hall, condemning the council’s move.

On Feb. 12, anti-war groups were joined by hundreds of military supporters, veterans and parents of soldiers, who rallied in front of Old City Hall in the hours leading up to a City Council meeting. The meeting was scheduled to reexamine the city’s original anti-Marine stance.

In the early hours of the next morning and after more than 125 people spoke on both sides of the issue, the council voted 7-2 not to send the letter to the Marines. The council also refused to apologize, and outlined their support for those protesting the U.S. Marines center.

For their moves, the chamber’s Garrett said merchants are being punished.

“(We) strongly encourage the City Council to offer a public apology to our community and the countless others who were offended by their actions – folks who roll up their sleeves every day and work hard to serve their country and their community,” he wrote in a recent letter.

Deborah Badhia, the executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said the fallout and the protests have been a “hardship” on businesses.

“In spite of any political issues that are going on we still want the public to know that they are welcome and invited in Berkeley,” she said.



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One Response to “Berkeley Businesses Hurt by Council’s Anti-war stand”

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JOIN THE BOYCOTT of California products at the- bring berkeley to its knees blog. the city council ignores the thousands of emails it has been sent, as liberals do. wines, fruits and vegetables represent a multi-billion dollar industry, with much of the money going to the berkeley area.

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