'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters Force Cafe Layoffs as Business Drops

They want to change the economy, and now they have -- by putting people out of work.

Twenty-one employees of a once-thriving cafe and catering business were fired because the weeks-long "Occupy Wall Street" protest chased away too many customers.

“I support their freedom of speech but the whole thing is hypocritical if it makes people lose their jobs,” said Shamil Cepeda, who was one of those laid off.

Cepeda, 23, added, "If [the protesters] would just go get a real job, helping real people, that would help a lot more than just taking up space and shouting at people and putting others they claim to care for out of work."

Her former boss, Milk Street Cafe owner Marc Epstein, said he had no choice but to slash staff after "Occupy Wall Street" caused his business to plummet 30 percent -- and warned he may have to shut down soon.

“We laid off people Friday," Epstein said. "We had a staff of about 100. It’s sad, it’s just so sad.”

The protests, Epstein added, have turned parts of once-bustling Wall Street into a ghost town.

“Wall Street, which is a beautiful pedestrian mall, has for the last six weeks become totally desolate," he said. "People aren’t walking here anymore.”

“The food industry does not have anybody in the one percent, workers or owners,” Epstein, who has no love for the protesters, added.

But he also pointed a finger at the NYPD and City Hall, which he said had ignored his pleas for help.

“I’m saying to all of them, understand the consequences of your actions. As a result of you guys making these decisions, a small business that just invested in your city is threatened, as well as all of the jobs here,” he said.

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