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Vandals attack BP station in Williamsburg

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A BP station on Williamsburg’s Southside was attacked by protesters angry at the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

On May 29, vandals heaved brown paint onto the Hewes Service Station’s towering BP sign, one of five such acts of vandalism that weekend at BP service stations throughout the city, police said.

The action has disturbed station manager Mark Sapozhnikov, who has owned and operated the Hewes branch for 20 years.

The attack came on a Saturday, when the station was closed. When Sapozhnikov returned the next morning, he called the corporate headquarters and set about cleaning his sign, which took three days and cost about $1,500.

Sapozhnikov remains angry that protesters targeted his filling station, which is owned independently from the British petroleum giant whose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in one of the largest oil spills in the history of the industrialized world.

“I am not corporate BP,” said Sapozhnikov. “I am an independent business owner, a franchisee. BP committed to supplying good quality fuel, and I am committed to selling their product, taking care of the customer and everything else.”

It has been an odd episode in Sapozhnikov’s 20-year history in Williamsburg. He originally opened his station on Kent Avenue as an Amoco franchisee, but the station became a BP outlet eight years ago after the companies merged.

Sapozhnikov, whose station is in the largely Hasidic Southside, is so beloved for his hands-on service that certificates and letters of thanks from members of both feuding Satmar sects are on his office wall.

He said that his high-quality service has allowed him to maintain his business, despite the anger at BP.

“We’ve had the same volume,” said Sapozhnikov. “People need good service.”

Loyal customers, such as Gary Schlesinger, a leader of the Aroni community with the Satmar faith, say that his people are solidly behind Sapozhnikov.

“Whoever committed the vandalism is not from the our community,” he said. “He always helps the synagogue. It is an outside group that did this tsurris with BP.”

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joe from Carroll Gardens says:
Why are people so stupid, most of these stations are independently owned by people trying to make a living. They have no ties to the corporate hierarchy. Stop being idiots.
June 13, 2010, 3:36 pm
bike from clinton hill says:
this station is was OPEN this Saturday the 12'th, i rode my bike yesterday on Kent Ave. is he a Jew than why is he open on Saturdays?
June 13, 2010, 3:51 pm
NYC The Blog from Manhattan says:
Yesterday, about 50 protesters felt The New York Times building was a more appropriate place to stage a protest: http://nyctheblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/worldwide-bp-protest-unfolds-at-new.html
June 13, 2010, 6:40 pm
moody from upstate says:
to the bike from clinton hill, most deffinetly you passed by the station after sundown thats when they open on saturday nights , you will never find them open on saturdays, check your facts before you post or say anything.
June 14, 2010, 8:20 am
Luke from Brooklyn says:
"Why are people so stupid, most of these stations are independently owned by people trying to make a living. They have no ties to the corporate hierarchy. Stop being idiots."

At the same time you can say that most gas stations are independently owned, and this guy chose BP. It seems that BP corporate paid for the cleanup, so it is not that stupid. The idea that you are an independent contractor so you have no culpability in the corporation you have chosen to affiliate with is idiotic. I've got no pity for the guy in this particular incident--especially since it didn't cost him anything.
June 14, 2010, 10:11 am
Tom R from Park Slope says:
If you're going to do business under the banner of BP, independent or not, there are people who will take issue with your decision. Find another oil company you can do business with. Btw, do you not know what's going on in the Gulf? Is there a news blackout in Williamsburg?
June 14, 2010, 10:49 am
Joe from Gowanus says:
Luke, vandalism and destruction is never the answer.
June 14, 2010, 1:51 pm
willy boy from willy says:
moody/ bike@clinton -the gas staion is open on saturday but no big volume as most of his custmers are jews he by him self is not a strong religes jew but as a franchised co. its in the contract he got to be open 24/7 but he is never there on shabath i do walk by alot on shabath . as i understand why these people got mad on him because he is the most expensef from all the 5 station in viily even the next gas station (getty) is cheaper with a service man all the time and he is a self service so people are mad on him about the price so they toke a hit on him on saterday because they know on the week days to many eyes around
June 14, 2010, 5:37 pm
baruch Herzfeld says:
My guys who did the job painting over the bike lane obviously made a good job here too1 they already have experience.
June 16, 2010, 1:50 pm
Jeff from Williamsburg says:
"At the same time you can say that most gas stations are independently owned, and this guy chose BP."

Actually, it says in the story that he chose Amoco, and was ushered into BP when they merged, which had nothing to do with him. You don't know the terms of his agreement with Amoco/BP; he might be locked into this for a while.

And, I mean, come on, how would he have known any better than the rest of us that a BP rig was going to cause this disaster? A few years ago I worked for an environmental advocacy organization, and they would only fill the company cars at BP because the company was seen as being forward-looking on green technology. Seems stupid now, but I think the BP ("Beyond" petrolium) rebrand really worked on people.
June 17, 2010, 12:27 pm
Lhatese from Williamsburg says:
I agree with Jeff this small business owner has nothing to do with the Gulf. Would you blame a teller at Chase for what happens on Wall Street? A soldier for a war you don't agree with? Silly.
July 9, 2010, 5:04 am

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