S.I. Bias attacks and police deterring business

August 6, 2010 3:39:44 PM PDT
Staten Island business owners say the increased police presence due to the bias attacks is hurting business.

El Mirador Restaurant normally does about $1,200 in business a day, but not now.

"I make $500, something like that," said Felix Alvarado, the owner of El Mirador Restaurant.

Now that there's an increased police presence in the Port Richmond section of Staten Island to deter bias attacks, some business owners say it's keeping paying customers away, not criminals.

"There's a big police truck outside. It's right in front of the business. They're really afraid," Alvarado said.

The mobile command center is stationed on Port Richmond Avenue.

While officers fan out in the neighborhood on foot, patrol cars, and horseback, the command center has been in the same place.

"We were losing a lot of customers because they couldn't find any parking, second of all it was too much intimidation even for our regular customers," said Biniam Hadgu, the owner of J.J. Grocery.

It's been so bad, Hadgu considered temporarily shutting down.

"Just to keep the air conditioning on and pay the workers, it wasn't it wasn't bringing in enough money," Hadgu said.

"They're not going to keep that amount of presence they have there now. They just can't," said Staten Island Borough President, James P. Molinaro.

The borough president has heard many of the same complaints.

There was a meeting Thursday night with the business community and elected officials Thursday night to better work with business owners to stop bias attacks.

"When I did go to the meeting, I did feel a sense like they were listening to us. I've been back this morning, I've already seen a lot of improvements," Hadgu said.