Are Occupy protests hurting the little guy?

Nov. 10, 2011 at 3:02 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Owners of some small Oakland, Calif., businesses are urging Occupy protesters to pack up and go home, saying the encampments are killing business.

"The impact of the urban encampment has been very negative," said Paul Junge, public policy director for the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. "We are aware of dozens of small businesses in and around Frank Ogawa Plaza where the tents are, reporting 40 percent to 50 percent losses in the past three or four weeks, including clothing stores, coffee shops, and conference spaces."

Junge said people are avoiding demonstrators in Oakland, where protesters shut down the port and clashed with police downtown, resulting in more than 100 arrests. Store windows were broken and buildings were spray-painted with graffiti.

"They don't like walking around down there, it makes them nervous … they are taking their business elsewhere," he said in a three-page letter to Mayor Jean Quan, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

However, State University of New York economics professor Michael Zweig Monday told the Monitor protesters at the original Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park had gone out of their way to not impact local businesses.

"They have teams to deal with sanitation and trash issues just so they won't interfere with the operation of local businesses," he said.

Occupy Oakland protesters recently began meeting with local businesses from coffee shops to restaurants to find out what they can do to help them, the newspaper said.

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