Minority-owned businesses are among the worst-hit targets of looters and rioters who rampaged in Minneapolis and then other cities after a black man died in police custody, according to news reports.
“Expressing grievances to our elected officials in the form of protest is a time-honored tradition,” Stacy Washington, co-chairwoman of the board of Project 21, a black conservative group, said in a public statement Monday.
“But what we are watching unfold across the country is a coordinated effort to destroy the rule of law and order in our communities and to gin up racial tension,” Washington said. “In video after video, we see masked white protesters dressed all in black destroying property in black neighborhoods. And it’s blacks who are trying to stop the Antifa protesters from defacing small businesses.”
During remarks Monday evening in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump noted: “The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe.”
Prosecutors charged Derek Chauvin, 44, with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, 46, who was being arrested Memorial Day evening on suspicion of passing a counterfeit 20-dollar bill.
Cellphone video showed Chauvin, at the time a Minneapolis police officer, with a knee pressing into the neck of Floyd, prone and handcuffed on the pavement, for nearly nine minutes.
Floyd, who was black, could be heard begging Chauvin, who is white, to allow him to stand and saying “I can’t breathe” before he fell silent.
A medical examiner determined Monday that Floyd’s death was a homicide. Outrage over his death has united Americans across political divides, as well as police chiefs and police unions.
“I understand the anger, but I do not understand destroying your own neighborhood to protest an innocent man’s murder,” Marie Fischer, an information technology specialist and Maryland political consultant who is black, said of those looting and setting fires.
“I do not understand many who are bailing out these ‘protesters’ as a sign of support. How about you fund the minority business owners whose stores and businesses have been destroyed by rioters?” said Fischer, who also is a member of Project 21. “They should fund those who were and are building these communities instead of the ones tearing them down under the guise of social justice—which in this case is neither social nor just.”
Here are six examples of minority-owned businesses across the country that were vandalized, desecrated, or destroyed by rioters.
1. Minneapolis: Where Unrest Began
Luis Tamay, an immigrant, reportedly saved for more than 10 years to open his Ecuadorian restaurant, El Sabor Chuchi, in Minneapolis seven years ago.
After guarding his restaurant during the first couple of nights of unrest, Tamay obeyed the city’s curfew Friday night and went home, believing the Minnesota National Guard would keep order.
When Tamay arrived at his restaurant Saturday morning, it was burned to the ground, the Minneapolis StarTribune reported.
“Seventeen years of work is gone,” he told the newspaper.
Nearby, a Spanish-language radio station, La Raza, also burned down. Station owner Maya Santamaria wrote on her GoFundMe page: “Small, minority business owners found themselves with the businesses that they worked their fingers to the bone building destroyed, looted, vandalized and burned down. Some had no insurance. Others have no resources.”
Jeff Lusuer, a Minneapolis barber who is black, had two shops. One was burned down; someone broke into the other and stole supplies.
Still, Lusuer expressed empathy for the looters after what had occurred in Floyd’s killing, saying he is fed up with police.
“Even though it hurt my businesses, I understand,” Lusuer told the StarTribune.
Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, and peaceful protests began there before others turned to violence, looting, and arson.
The StarTribune reported: “The riots and arson that followed protests of George Floyd’s death have devastated organizations and businesses that serve communities of color.”
The newspaper reported Monday that looters burned a nonprofit center for American Indian youth.
La Michoacana Purepecha ice cream shop lost power as a result of the riots, and employees tried to give popsicles away.
“People right now are going to want to stay away from Lake Street, and that is understandable,” business owner Ricardo Hernandez told the newspaper, referring to the location of his ice cream shop.
“It’s very hard to see your whole life savings go down like this,” Hernandez said. “We used up all our money to build something nice for … not just the Latino community, but everybody.”
2. Atlanta: ‘A Very Sad Day for Us’
Atlanta has a strong legacy in the civil rights movement as the one-time home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who promoted peaceful resistance to injustice in the 1960s.
Still, the city erupted in riots as badly as any other in the nation over the weekend. Some of the stores that were broken into and damaged were black-owned businesses, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The TV station highlighted Attom, the first black-owned business to operate in an outdoor mall called The Shops at Buckhead, known for high-end retail stores.
“I don’t know if people know we’re owned by a black man because we don’t put it on the front of the business,” Attom owner Zola Dias told the station. “But this is a very sad day for us.”
The store is boarded up, like most of the other shops in the outdoor mall, Fox 5 reported.
“I’m a black man, I’m young, but there is another way to go and protest,” Dias added.
A group of black women set up a fundraising effort to assist black-owned businesses that were destroyed or vandalized, the station reported.
3. Looting in Texas Capital
Looters targeted a black-owned salon over the weekend in Austin, Texas, NBC affiliate KXAN reported.
The owner of Private Stock Premium Boutique set up a GoFundMe page and as of Monday had raised more than $60,000 to help rebuild.
Another black-owned business, World Liquor & Tobacco, was looted twice Sunday, KXAN reported.
4. ‘Frustrating’ Vandalism in Denver
A Denver restaurant called Buffalo Bills Wings and Things, owned by Zac Gabani, was a target of vandalism.
“It is frustrating,” Gabani told CBS4 in Denver, adding that breaking things “is pretty counterintuitive.”
Gabani’s eatery reportedly was one of the few businesses that tried to remain open during both the riots and peaceful protests in Denver.
“We were the only place open to feed them,” Gabani said. “We like to support the community; we just wish they would help support us as well.”
5. Milwaukee: ‘Not a Way of Finding Justice’
Dozens of minority-owned businesses in Milwaukee were ransacked by looters, Fox6 Milwaukee reported.
Sam Rahami, owner of the store Trend Benderz, smashed over the weekend, told the TV station: “Destroying somebody’s business, somebody’s livelihood, is not a way of finding justice for anyone.”
Another store owner, not identified by name in the news story, complained to the station that the destruction was counterproductive.
“What they’re doing is against their benefit. We are here to be part of this community,” the owner of a Cricket Wireless store that was looted and damaged said.
6. Philadelphia: ‘For My Own Community to Do It to My Business’
Black leaders in Philadelphia held a forum calling for peace and in part highlighting that many black businesses were being destroyed, ABC-6 reported.
The forum included black clergy in Philadelphia as well as Human Rights Coalition 215 and Philadelphia Community Stakeholders.
Among those speaking at the event this week were Elliott Broaster, owner of Smoke N Things, a shop that was burned down.
“When I got home alone, I shed a few tears. I saw my business burn down and it hurt me a lot. And especially for my own community to do it to my business, that’s what really [hurt],” Broaster told ABC-6.
The news station reported: “What took years for this Temple grad to build was destroyed in a matter of minutes.”