Small businesses showing support for protests

Donated pizza is passed out in Zuccotti Park for members and supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement before they marched to the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, 2011 in New York City.

Jeremy Hobson: Riot police in the Australian city of Melbourne broke up an Occupy Wall Street protest today, dragging demonstrators out of a plaza.

In Seattle, far from being dragged out of their
homebase, protestors are being offered free or discounted goods and services from local businesses.

Vanessa Romo of station KPLU has more.


Vanessa Romo: It's 5 o'clock in Seattle's Westlake Park, the heart of the local Occupy Wall Street movement. Brad Tutmarc pulls up and gets out of his car with two free pizzas. Suddenly, he's surrounded by a crowd of protesters looking for a slice.

Brad Tutmarc: You guys can have the pizzas. There you go, there you go.

Tutmarc works for local pizzeria Big Mario's. It's been providing pizzas for the protesters for about a month.

David Meinert: Oh, I'm definitely part of the 99 percent.

David Meinert owns Big Mario's. He says small businesses like his are suffering because they can't get bank loans and credit. To show his solidarity, Meinert gave away pizzas during the first week of the protest. That's now morphed into discounts on pies ordered on behalf of the occupiers.

An alliance of small businesses around the country are making similar donations to their local protests. But is it really all for the cause, or just good marketing?

Meinert: It's not super profitable for us. You know, it might be some positive marketing in a way but it's really just a way to support.

Back at Westlake Park, protesters like David Smith dismiss the idea their movement is being co-opted by commercial interests.

David Smith: I've gone to Big Mario's before but I'm not going to go more often just because they've been donating pizzas.

They would, however, like a few more toppings.

In Seattle, I'm Vanessa Romo for Marketplace.

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