Business goes on as Tempe protesters march past restaurants

Some customers watched as protesters marched past Mill Avenue restaurants but continued to eat and socialize as usual. (Photo by David Caltabiano/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – A handful protestors chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” along Mill Avenue Monday morning, but it was mostly business as usual for customers at several nearby restaurants.

By the time the protest on the Mill Avenue bridge reached the business district, the crowd had dissipated from about 60 protesters to a couple dozen. Customers at three restaurants looked on but continued eating, drinking and talking as protesters marched down the street.

The marchers were protesting the police shooting of 19-year-old Dalvin Hollins in July. The shooting is under investigation.

“It’s just a quiet Monday. Nothing too loud, nothing rambunctious,” said Erik Johnsen, a bartender at NCounter.

An owner of the nearby Corner Bakery said the restaurant turned into a hub for everyone at the protest.

“I had a lot of protesters in here. The media came in to get coffee. The police were in here as well getting coffee,” said Tom Long, co-owner and operator.

They joined the usual customers.

“Most of our customers in the morning work in the businesses right here so they’re coming to work either way. “Business as usual.”

Co-owner Josh Harrison, who watched the protest from the restaurant, was happy no property was vandalized.

“We’ve seen things happen around the country that are concerning but fortunately nothing happened,” Harrison said. “We didn’t really expect it as much as we just wanted to prepare for it.”

In the end, Long said, the protest in the business area was relatively quiet.

“It was pretty respectful,” Long said.