After a wave of property damage to dozens of Valencia Street during a pre-May Day rally Monday evening, it's pretty clear that Occupy has an image problem in San Francisco.
One of the only groups with an even worse image problem in the city is large financial institutions like Wells Fargo. So when Wells Fargo saw an opportunity to bolster its credibility as a positive force in the community and tweak the nose of Occupy at the same time, the San Francisco-based mega-bank couldn't it pass up.
On Wednesday, Wells Fargo released a statement saying it would donate $25,000 toward the cleaning up the mess made during Monday's riot in the Mission.
"Many small businesses in the Valencia Corridor don't have the cash reserves to handle unexpected expenses like vandalism," said Deena Davenport, President of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, in a statement released by the bank. "Wells Fargo's generosity will provide timely access to capital to help our merchants open for business again."
The funds are being administered through two neighborhood groups, the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association and the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association.
"This grant will help our local merchants make much-needed repairs like replacing broken windows, removing graffiti and aiding in the general clean up required to open their doors again," said Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association President Erick Arguello in the same statement.
The violence, which caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to locally-owned businesses such as the Brick & Mortar Music Hall, Four Barrel Coffee and Weston Wear, sparked widespread shock and animosity among neighborhood residents.
"For my mind it’s why us?" Eric Koehler, owner of the gallery Art Zone, which had both a large glass window and front door broken, told NBC Bay Area. "We’re a local business, local art gallery, we show local artists’ work -- why are we a target for that kind of violence?"
Well Fargo isn't the only group intent in providing assistance to the affected merchants. Facebook designer Ben Blumenfeld is organizing an online donation drive where individuals can give money towards helping the vandalized businesses get back on their feet.
"Let's step up and show them that the community supports them when others try to drive them out," wrote Blumenfeld on the page, which to date has raised over $6,000.
Occupy leadership has distanced itself from the actions of the Mission rioters. "This was not Occupy," Magick, an Occupy SF spokesperson, told The Huffington Post. "For the past few months we've been working hard to build support for peaceful, creative May Day events, and then this happens in one of our very dearest neighborhoods: the Mission. We don't know who did this and it's heartbreaking that this group would undermine our efforts."
Magick noted that members of Occupy SF spent the morning following the riot sweeping up glass and talking with affected business owners. "These are the very people we are trying to protect," she said.
Wells Fargo has been a prime target for local Occupy groups. During this week's May Day General Strike, protestors gathered outside the bank's Financial District headquarters and held aloft a giant puppet depicting the bank's leadership as members of the hated one percent.
Tuesday's protest wasn't the first time the bank had been the target of Occupy activists. Dozens were arrested during the company's shareholder meeting in April and others have staged protests outside CEO John Stumpf's Russian Hill home.
Take a look at rioters wreaking havoc in the Mission last Monday below:
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more