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Obama Visit Comes With Mixed Response and Expectations

Posted: 07/23/2012 7:04 pm

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Sayre Quevedo

OAKLAND, CA -- Fresh from a visit to Aurora, Colo., a town still reeling from the shooting spree at a movie theater over the weekend, President Obama is at a political fundraiser in Oakland, Calif., a city accustomed to weekly, and sometimes daily, reports of deadly gun violence.

The president will be attending private fundraisers at a home in the upper-middle class township of Piedmont and at the Fox Theater in uptown Oakland, a neighborhood that's drawn national attention for its revival as an arts district and its support for a defiant medical cannabis movement.

Streets around the Fox Theater have been closed since about one this afternoon in preparation for Mr. Obama's arrival. Medical cannabis supporters rallied at City Hall at noon to protest the federal raid of medical marijuana facilities here in April. Crowds gathered in the uptown area near Mr. Obama's campaign headquarters on 17th Street, with both supporters and opponents of the president's policies holding signs they hoped would attract the attention of television cameras setting up for the main event this evening.

Some people waited at a barricaded corner of 17th and Telegraph streets. One of these onlookers, Oakland resident Lauren Levy, said she didn't see the gun violence in Aurora and Oakland being on Mr. Obama's radar. "[Obama] is forced to respond to these events because they're tragic and have made national headlines. But here, the gun violence is status quo. A five-year-old got shot over the weekend in Oakland and that wasn't even on the front page."

But some Oakland business owners were less concerned with what issues Barack Obama would address tonight, than the impact his visit would have on foot traffic. Art Pollard, the co-owner of Mr. K's Fine Suits on 17th and Broadway, says that the heavy police presence around the store has kept customers from coming in. "Obama may benefit from the visit, but it's going to hurt businesses," he said.

"It's not like business was that great to begin with," said Losanya Chatman, who owns and runs Hill's Shoes across the street. She said that she had seen more customers today than usual. "Everyone is coming downtown right now, people who didn't even know we were here before."

 Mohamed Ali runs a convenience store sandwiched between Telegraph and Broadway. He plans to stay open for the whole of the events. (Credit: Chaz Hubbard)

   

Art Pollard, the co-owner of Mr. K's Fine Suits, says Obama's visit is hurting his business. (Credit: Chaz Hubbard)

 

The Marquee at the Fox Theater where Obama will be hosting an event tonight. (Credit: Chaz Hubbard)

 

Losanya Chatman owns and runs Hill's Shoes in Oakland. She says the president's visit has brought in more customers than usual. (credit: Chaz Hubbard)

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