A rally in Dolores Park last night, organized by Occupy SF and meant as a preamble to today's long-planned general strike, turned ugly after a band of 60 to 70 protesters and anarchists marched down 18th Street and then down Valencia, smashing glass and tossing paint bombs at businesses. Farina (3560 18th Street) was one of the first to be hit in what appears to have been a targeted attack on "gentrifying" businesses, with a big anarchy symbol painted on the restaurant's pretty glass front. Next came the Mission Police Station, which got a good helping of paint, and then a dude took a crowbar to a window at Bar Tartine (see below), and to the windshield of an Aston Martin parked nearby, outside Locanda. Luckily, Locanda had shatter-proof glass, and despite one protester's effort to toss the valet sign through one of the front windows, the glass wouldn't break, and diners proceeded to finish their dinners unabated.
"I just wanted to separate that guy from the valet sign," said Locanda manager Adam Koskoff, who subsequently got hit with an egg. Locanda's storefront was hit with paint, but the mess was mostly cleaned up within two hours. The group moved quickly down the street, just after 9 p.m., and also smashed windows at nearby clothing stores, and at Four Barrel Coffee. Businesses like Puerto Allegre, Limon, and Arinell Pizza were all spared, though Arinell closed early.
Bar Tartine manager Vinny Eng said they were able to go on with the pop-up dinner they were hosting there, which ended before 11 p.m. The small section of window that was smashed was in the newer, side portion of the dining room. "Luckily no one was seated over there tonight," he said. "So there was a little glass on the floor but no one got hit."
Few if any arrests were made, and all the businesses plan to be open today.
Though members of the Occupy movement quickly tried to distance themselves from the chaos, it was hard not to make the association, given the planned May Day actions today, and calls on the May 1st Strike Day website for anti-gentrification actions. "We were hijacked and it was an utter clusterfuck," wrote one Occupy organizer on his blog.
Four Barrel owner Jeremy Tooker spoke to the Chronicle as he dealt with the broken glass of his storefront, saying, "This just seems like they're frustrated with their impotency at this point. It's like, 'Look at me, I'm still here, I'm still occupying.'"
There is an anti-gentrification action planned this morning in Oakland's Uptown district, where some similar shenanigans might be occurring. We'll keep you updated if anything further goes down today.
Bar Tartine, which suffered minimal damage.