The Daily Californian Online

Businesses Feel Strain of Ongoing Marines Protests

By Ashley Trott
Contributing Writer
Monday, February 25, 2008
Category: News > City > Crime

Charles Brown (foreground), a member of anti-war group World Can't Wait, protests at the Downtown Marines recruitment center.

Two protesters were arrested during a demonstration at the Downtown Marine Corps recruiting center last Friday, part of an ongoing saga that some say is hurting nearby businesses.

Anti-war group Code Pink has been demonstrating in front of the center since last fall. Since a recent City Council decision to call the recruiters "uninvited and unwelcome," the demonstrations have escalated, with another anti-war group, World Can't Wait, protesting on Fridays and police donning riot helmets when responding to the group's demonstrations.

Last Friday, members of World Can't Wait chained themselves together and marched away from the center towards the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

Police began to arrest one protester for using a megaphone outside of the boundaries of the group's city-issued sound permit, but at around 4:20 p.m. about 50 demonstrators surrounded two police officers, preventing the arrest and prompting calls for backup, said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

Twenty officers responded and two demonstrators, including the one with the megaphone, were arrested for resisting arrest, Kusmiss said.

As this was going on, local business owners were doing their best to carry on with their business, even though their front doors were sometimes blocked by protesters.

"(The customers) don't feel comfortable to sit here and do the services," said Ziba Fanaian, owner of Z & S Beauty Studio, whose entrance is next to the recruitment center. "(Customers) try to come the day the protesters don't come."

Other neighboring businesses have also been feeling the effects of the protests, like The Berkeley Review, an MCAT tutoring center located directly above the recruitment center.

Pirasteh said students are still attending classes even though the constant yelling from the protests has forced many classes to move into a stuffy back room, away from the noisy protests on the street.

Protesters say they feel business losses do not compare to the cost of war.

"I do feel for them, but I feel that bombs dropping on your head is a little harder to deal with than losing their job," said Pamela Benning, a member of Code Pink.

But business owners say they see no way to salvage their businesses until the protests end.

"I cannot move, I cannot do anything, so basically we're stuck," Fanaian said.

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