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Restaurant owner speaks out after protest at Elk Horn Brewery

Stephen Sheehan said he felt defeated after Saturday's attack on his popular restaurant, but he's ready to continue the "good fight."

Posted: Feb 10, 2020 7:15 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The owner of Elk Horn Brewery is speaking out after a small group of homeless advocates stormed his restaurant on Saturday.

Stephen Sheehan, who started the group Eugene Wake Up, said he felt defeated. But during a group meeting this morning, he said fellow members lifted his spirits. Now he said he's ready to continue what they call "the good fight."

The group has said they are not fighting the homeless but are fighting the lawlessness that they say continues to ruin their businesses.

This first started when Elk Horn Brewery was broken into a few months back, causing thousands of dollars in damage, and it wasn't the first time.

RELATED: DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES: 'EUGENE WAKE UP' TO HOMELESS CRIME

Sheehan has led the charge of Eugene Wake Up for months now but said at the meeting this morning, "they broke me," after the attack this weekend.

"These were people full of hate that came in and scared kids. You know this day and age with all the violence we have people coming into public spaces and doing the things that they do, I'm surprised people weren't under tables, but I know kids got scared, that was my biggest concern, how many kids were in there," Sheehan said. 

KEZI asked Alex Goldman, one of the people who stormed into Elk Horn Brewery, if he thought it was a peaceful protest. Goldman claims that Sheehan is anti-homeless. 

"I believe there is more violence in the words of Stephen Sheehan and Eugene Wake Up than a megaphone inside of a restaurant," Goldman said. 

But Sheehan said the ironic thing is he himself was once homeless and understands what it's like to be in that position more than any of the people who showed up and disrupted his customers.

"I was homeless for two years. And that's how I wound up in Eugene. I'm a recovering addict, for 20 years, so I know where these people are coming from. It's a struggle," said Sheehan. 

Sheehan said he's very empathetic to people living on the streets, but he is not going to tolerate the constant vandalism and lawlessness that continues to affect local businesses.

"They're so confused by the fact that this is not a homeless issue at all. That is not what Eugene Wake Up is at all. This is about behavior. Behavior that is destroying businesses and people's lives," said Jarl Berg, member of Eugene Wake Up. 

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