Some Staten Island businesses say they’ll close up shop during this weekend’s march Al Sharpton plans to lead for Eric Garner, saying they are worried about violence or that customers will be scared away.
“I’m going to try to close by rally time,” one card shop owner said. “I’m not worried about the regulars acting badly, it’s the people from the other boroughs who I’m worried about.”
Both Police Commissioner William Bratton and Sharpton said Wednesday that the march early Saturday afternoon would be peaceful and organizers would not tolerate violence. But the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce sent a flier to businesses in the North Shore area warning that precautions should be taken, the Staten Island Advance reported.
“Although the march is considered peaceful,” the flier said, “there is no guarantee that everyone in attendance will act sensibly. It is important that personal safety and general precautions be utilized.”
Karl Reina, who owns a restaurant on the street the protest is scheduled to cross, said he was nervous that customers will stay away.
“Yeah, I’m worried,” Reina said. “I’d be a fool if I wasn’t concerned at all. I’m contemplating opening, but I don’t know if my regulars would be able to get here. I know a lot of the neighbors are closing. I’m hoping the NYPD is over-prepared.”
The march will cross the Verrazano Bridge with a flotilla of vehicles, then will head to Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan’s office. Donovan had ordered a grand jury but Sharpton wants the federal government to get involved.