- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

Business owners in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, host city of the G-20 summit of world leaders, spent much of Friday sweeping up glass and calling insurance adjusters after a throng of protesters smashed their storefronts less than 24 hours earlier.

Plywood and duct tape covered shattered windows and glass doors at about 20 Forbes Avenue shops vandals targeted Thursday night during a demonstration that, according to onlookers, some college students joined. Some business owners said they were hesitant to install new windows until the G-20 summit ended and out-of-town visitors left.

Police presence in the neighborhood was heightened yesterday, in part because the large “People’s March to the G-20” started there before heading downtown and to the North Side. Officers in riot gear stood guard at nearly every block on Forbes near the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. About 15 officers patrolled on horseback.

“We serve so many students, I can’t believe it was them,” said Michele Mazella, co-owner of the popular Pamela’s Diner — famous citywide for its pancakes — where three windows were broken. Mazella said she learned of the damage when a protester posted a message on Twitter.

“It had to be people who aren’t from the area, people who don’t know us,” she said.

Still, business went on yesterday. Mazella covered the shattered windows with plywood and fitted them with handwritten signs that read “We’re open.”

Mazella said she would wait until Monday to replace the windows.

Vandals shattered six silver-colored glass panes in the Rand Corp. building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Craig Street that is home to BNY Mellon and Citizens banks. They smashed two large windows near the ATM.

The banks closed for the day. Citizens wasn’t expected to reopen until Monday, according to a spokeswoman. It was unclear when the BNY Mellon branch would reopen. Damage costs have not been calculated.

“We’re talking big bucks here,” said Mark Singiser of Southwest Aluminum and Glass Co. in Cuddy, who worked to replace windows at the BNY Mellon branch. “Each one of these panes costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars.”

The Irish Design Center, a fixture on Craig Street for three decades, closed, and a wooden bulwark covered a thick window with a 9-foot crack.

A Quizno’s Sub shop opened, but plywood replaced three windows and the door, and duct tape stretched over the few remaining panes.

Workers at the nearby Lu Lu’s Noodles on Craig Street worked to successfully reopen the eatery for lunch after vandals broke a large window.

The protest began about 9 p.m. near Schenley Plaza and moved throughout Oakland before ending about midnight. Police arrested 42 people.

Officials at Pitt and CMU said they were investigating whether students were among those arrested. Pitt spokesman John Fedele said students could be subject to suspension or expulsion if they violated the university’s code of conduct.

CMU spokesman Ken Walters said he was unaware of any university students being arrested.

“This whole thing was just stupid,” said Pitt student Lindsey Westerbrook, 21, of Oakland, as she stared at an open but boarded-up McDonald’s. “Why would you trash your own neighborhood to make a point?”

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