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Friday, May 1, 2015

Vendors, neighbors react to vandalism of St. Roch Market overnight

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 11:24 AM

click to enlarge Workers clean up overnight vandalism at St. Roch Market. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Workers clean up overnight vandalism at St. Roch Market.

Following the overnight vandalization of St. Roch Market, the people pressure washing slogans like "YUPPIE = BAD" and "FUCK YUPPIES" were mostly the people from the neighborhood itself. 

"Look at the people cleaning," Kayti Chung-Williams, owner of the food stall Koreole, told Gambit. "It's the people who live in the community. That's the ironic part. What point are you trying to make here?"

Michael, a security guard who was working an event at Cafe Istanbul late last night, didn't want to give his last name. He said around 2 a.m. he saw a group of people in hooded clothing take hammers to the front and side windows of the market, which opened just over three weeks ago. Michael called the police. "It all happened so fast," he said. "They just went bam! bam! bam! ... 9-1-1 came out pretty fast." 

The offenders shattered about half of the market's windows and splattered pink paint along the front and one side of the building. In black and blue spray paint they scribbled the A-in-a-circle symbol for anarchy, along with anti-"yuppie" graffiti. They did not get into the market, which allowed co-owner Will Donaldson to open the market on time, despite the interruption. 

"Specific people are always going to have things to say about any project that anybody does," Donaldson said. "I think the overwhelming feedback is, we have 13 new businesses that are all successful and hiring locally, and that's a great thing for the neighborhood. Some of our vendors are really saddened by this because it has the unfortunate effect of slowing down those businesses on a very important weekend in New Orleans."

Donaldson hopes the paint will be removed by this afternoon. "We're determined not to let the actions of a few unfortunate people affect all of the positive aspects of the market," he said. 

"They're telling us to go home, actually a majority of our vendors live in this neighborhood," co-owner Barre Tanguis told Gambit. "They are actually home. They're actually hurting their neighbors and friends when they do something like this."

Chuck Perkins, the owner of Cafe Istanbul, which stands just across the street from St. Roch Market, said his restaurant's window was smashed a few years ago upon opening. "Cafe Istanbul and the Healing Center causes its own fair share of resentment, even now," he said. 

"My great-great-grandparents shopped here," said Kevin Pedeaux, owner of Coast Roast, one of the market's vendors. "This is my neighborhood. And you are going to come from where the hell ever you're coming from, and you're going to come here and tell me that yuppie equals bad, or whatever? And you came from suburbia? Why don't you go paint that on your mom's house. My dad grew up on Mazant Street, my grandparents grew up on Louisa. This is my neighborhood."

"That's the thing, people don't know everyone's individual stories," Chung-Williams says, standing outside of the market watching pink, cloudy water run off into the gutter. "The individual stories of people trying to work hard. Making sacrifices. All of my employees are from St. Roch. I staff eight people right now. They all walk to work. We were just talking about it yesterday, I said, 'How are you guys liking the work so far?' It's been three weeks. This is the best job that they've ever had. Their kids can come through after school."

click to enlarge Despite overnight vandalism, St. Roch Market was open for business this morning. - JEANIE RIESS
  • Despite overnight vandalism, St. Roch Market was open for business this morning.

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