Local businesses vandalized


March 5, 2004, midnight | By Simona Danilovska | 16 years, 10 months ago


At least five different area commercial businesses were vandalized in th
early hours of Feb. 22, apparently in an effort to discourage the spread of
chain stores, according to a Feb. 25 police press release.

Two of the targeted stores were Subway and Starbucks Coffee in the
Woodmoor Shopping Center. The as-yet-unidentified vandals left behind a trail of shattered windows and doors and spray-painted graffiti.

All of the graffiti painted in front of the vandalized businesses expressed anti-corporate messages. A Woodmoor Starbucks Coffee employee said that the damages done to the store in which he works and the Subway shop on Carroll Avenue were nearly identical.

Officer Joyce Utter, of the media services division, said the incidents
"can be considered connected." Third District investigators are collaborating with Takoma Park police officers to establish that connection, Utter added.

The series of incidents seem to have happened "within minutes of each
other," according to the owner of the Woodmoor Subway, Mominul Khan. He saidthat he received a phone call at 2:46 a.m. and he arrived at the scene shortlyafterward. The press release read that at approximately 3:00 a.m., officers from the 3rd District "received another call for an alarm" at Starbucks Coffee in the Woodmoor area. Shortly after, officers received yet another call for commercial alarm at Starbucks Coffee on Colesville Road, where investigators found that next door, Einstein Bros. Bagels had also been vandalized.

Sam Kittner, landlord of the Carroll Avenue building now occupied by the
two-month-old Subway, interpreted the vandalism as "a terrorist kind of
activity."

Sam Kittner's wife, Bobbi, who described the sight of the vandalized
Subway as "eerie," explained in an e-mail to a neighborhood listserv that this was not the first of sign of protest against Subway's arrival in Takoma Park and that the incidents were growing increasingly destructive

Though Sam Kittner acknowledged that Subway's arrival was a highly
controversial topic, he feels that the criminals' actions were ineffective in
fighting against "chains." "It's a slap in the face of an individual, not the
company," he said. The sole owner of the store, Rizwan Khan pointed out that he pays Subway only for use of its name and supplies. "It really is a mom-and-pop store," he said.

Senior Phil Roberts agreed, saying that despite his own opposition to
franchises coming into an area where they will only "shut down other
businesses," this response was inappropriate. Said Roberts, "Do something productive like boycotting or handing out flyers."

Although junior Graham Mathews does not agree with the vandals' actions, he opposes the big chains, saying that CVS's arrival to Takoma Park gives validity to residents' fears. "When the CVS came to town, people were afraid it would replace Park Pharmacy, and, indeed, it did," explained Mathews.

The damage done to the Blair-area Subway will cost $3,000 to repair,
according to Khan. The vandals broke the windows, door and neon signs, which were all "very expensive." Because Subway is a franchise and not a "chain," the owner is responsible for making the payment.

In her e-mail, Bobbi Kittner wrote of a different consequence of the
vandalism. "The impact that the hammer made on the Subway window could have broken more than the glass. It could have made us hunker down and live in fear. Fear of retribution. Fear that the violence might go beyond spray painting and window breaking," she wrote.

Only hours after the vandalism occurred, hand-made signs were posted by the entrance of the Subway on Carroll Avenue, accompanied by flowers, expressing the community's support.



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Simona Danilovska. Simona Danilovska is a junior at Blair high school and a page editor for Chips, (a.k.a. the best newspaper in the world.) She was born on March 8, which makes her proud to be a Pisces =). Her favorite activities consist of checking her horoscope … More »

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