SF Mission District “Shocked” by Melee

Residents and business owners wonder why May Day protesters are destroying windows of independent stores.

A contingent of glass repairmen fanned out along San Francisco’s hip Valencia Street, repairing damage from what started out as a peaceful protest Monday night.

The trouble started when a splinter group broke off from the main group and began smashing windows and hurling paint at businesses along Valencia.

Eric Koehler, owner of Art Zone gallery got a call around 9:30 p.m. from his alarm company. When he arrived, three of the gallery’s giant glass window panes and been shattered as well as his front door.

"It was unbelievable, I sort of went into shock," said Koehler.

The group broke smashed windows at a string of Valencia shops, including Therapy, Pica Pica restaurant and Chez Tartine. Swaths of green and yellow paint marked the streets and sidewalks.     
"For my mind it’s why us?" said Koehler. "We’re a local business, local art gallery, we show local artists’ work -- why are we a target for that kind of violence?"

The vandals also hit the Mission Police station, smashing windows as riot police looked on.
Precinct Captain Robert Moser said the station didn’t initially have enough officers to confront the group of protesters. 

"If we were going to actually take action on a group that large, we want to make sure we have enough officers to ensure both officer and public safety," said Moser.

The captain said the station eventually got enough officers in place to push back the rioters.

Many in the neighborhood were outraged the protesters would target the Valencia corridor, which is mostly made-up of independent businesses.

"I just don’t understand why…these people that are just trying to live," said one woman who lives on Valenica. "If my bank is still open but my café is closed, what the hell?"

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