(12-20) 22:32 PST SAN FRANCISCO — A band of demonstrators, many wearing black masks, stormed a bustling San Francisco mall Saturday evening, upending garbage cans and foliage and damaging crystal merchandise at one kiosk.
An estimated 50 to 75 people were involved in the disruption at Westfield San Francisco Centre, police said.
“It felt like random, vague anarchy,” said Sam Cantrell, who sells sunglasses at a kiosk near the escalators on the street level where the protesters gathered.
“Everyone’s yelling,” he said. “Some people started running up the escalator the wrong way. People were grabbing their babies and running away in fear.”
The disruption began around 6:30 p.m. as holiday shoppers crowded the mall on the last Saturday before Christmas.
Some protesters threw food, police said. Others tried to toss a large planter onto the food court below.
According to mall management, the protesters were part of a “Solidarity with Greek Uprising” demonstration, which began in the Mission District earlier in the afternoon. An international day of action was called on Saturday to protest the death of a young man in Greece in early December.
“Although people have the right to their opinions, disruptive and destructive behavior on our property is not tolerated,” said mall management in a statement.
By 7:45 p.m., the area was cleaned up.
“They made a mess,” said Monica Yuen, owner of San Francisco Glass Works, a kiosk selling delicate imported crystal earrings, bracelets and other jewelry. She was trying to assess the damage to her wares.
“I had a lot of jewelry on the top shelves that got smashed,” she said. “They threw a big sign at it. I think some of it was stolen. I was crying and shaking.”
A police source said five or six protesters were arrested for misdemeanor vandalism.
E-mail Elizabeth Fernandez at email@example.com.
Elizabeth Fernandez, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle