The owners and staff of downtown Oakland’s Port Bar are shaken up following an incident of vandalism that took place sometime after the bar’s closing at midnight on Tuesday, October 3. The business’s exterior windows were shattered.
Port Bar co-owner Richard Fuentes says a security guide notified him that the bar’s windows had been smashed on the morning of Wednesday, October 4. While the owners initially suspected the damage was caused by gunfire, the Oakland Police Department confirmed in a statement to Eater SF on Thursday that the source of the damage was “rocks being thrown at the windows.”
Fuentes further clarified that the projectiles thrown at the window appeared to be ankle weights, which weighed about two to five pounds. Aside from the damage to the windows, no staff were hurt and nothing was taken from the bar. Though police investigators aren’t calling it that, Fuentes says he believes it was a hate crime targeting the bar. “Clearly because we were not broken into, we were only vandalized, it appears that it was purposely done,” Fuentes says. “It was not a random act.”
The Oakland Police Department said in a statement that officers determined “there are no known threats or issues to suggest a hate crime at this time.”
Fuentes wouldn’t go so far as to say he disagrees with the police. There were no hateful statements left behind, but the timing feels like too much of a coincidence. He says that no other neighboring businesses were damaged and points to recent incidents and threatening comments on the bar’s social media accounts as evidence that Port may have been a target rather than a random act of vandalism. In Instagram posts advertising drag shows and other programming at the bar, Fuentes says abhorrent comments commonly sprout up, which are often deleted by the team. “Our staff is shaken up, especially when we’ve had over 500 bills that have been targeted against the LGBT community,” Fuentes says. In the last two weeks, Fuentes says LGBTQ newspaper Bay Area Reporter has reported on vandalism at local queer bars, such as San Francisco’s Cinch Saloon, which was graffitied with an anti-trans slur on September 26.
Fuentes adds that he’s grateful that the incident happened at night and that no one was hurt. “It also just puts me on alert that we need to be more vigilant,” he says. “That’s why we have security outside to make sure that these things don’t happen.”
Fuentes and his partner and Port Bar co-owner Sean Sullivan have since boarded up the damaged windows. They’ve been told it will take “upwards of $10,000” to repair the windows since they are custom-made, double-pane glass that will take two weeks to install. A GoFundMe campaign to help pay for new windows has reached its $10,000 goal in just a day.
The Port Bar reopened by Wednesday afternoon, and Fuentes says they had an “overwhelming amount” of customers come out to support the bar’s staff. “I think that speaks volumes of how much people care about the Port Bar,” Fuentes says. “The Port Bar and the team, and Sean and I, have demonstrated that we’re more than just a bar — we’re a space that people call home.”
The Port Bar (2023 Broadway, Oakland) will be open during its regular business hours, 5 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 1:45 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.