For Tzortzatos, the “occupation” has resulted not just in a loss in business. “I’ve had a lot of damage from the protesters,” she said. “I’ve had to put a $200 lock on my bathroom because they come in here and try to bathe. The sink fell down to the ground, cracked open, pulled the plumbing out of the wall and caused a flood. It’s a no-win situation. If I open the restroom for one, 30 people line up outside, disrupting my business.”
A manager at the nearby Essex World Cafe — who asked to remain anonymous — shared similar complaints. Referring to three young men waiting at the end of the counter, he explained, “They want to use the toilet, the phones, we give them free water and free ice. They sit here and don’t buy anything, but they recharge their phone batteries with our plugs, and I tell them, ‘Hey, if you guys are going to come, I need to do some business here. We are suffering, too!’ And then they start with their own words, going against you.” The three young men eventually left the cafe, each carrying large containers the staff had filled with hot and cold water for them.
This manager also cited damages, including graffiti on his restroom walls. “For eight and a half years, there was nothing on those walls,” he said. “Now it says ‘Viva la Revolution’ everywhere. Yes, ‘Viva la Revolution,’ but don’t write it on my toilet. I let you use my facilities without being a customer and this is what I get?”