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Indianapolis businesses reopening after vandalism, COVID-19

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 19:21:07-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Businesses in downtown Indianapolis are starting to reopen their doors after vandalism and looting a couple weekends ago left many restaurants and stores severely damaged.

"It's been hectic, let's just put it like that," Romeo Gerson, owner of Michael's Soul Kitchen, said.

From having to close their doors because of COVID-19 to delaying opening back up because of extensive damage caused by looters two weekends ago, it's been a difficult few months for Indianapolis businesses.

"All the windows have been broken, the front window the back windows, and some stuff has been thrown inside," Gerson said.

Gerson said he's still working with his insurance company to make repairs.

"When it first happened the shock was there," Gerson said. "We are a black-owned business. We have been helping during this whole COVID-19. We've been doing all kinds of stuff so when it happened it was like, 'Wow.'"

Some businesses like the Commissary Barber and Barista, just a few blocks away, have been able to open though, after having their door kicked in and some barber equipment stolen too.

"We were out front helping out during the protests. We passed out milk and passed out water," Brandon Burdine, owner of Commissary Barber and Barista, said. "Anything that we could do to help out. We were protesting ourselves. So we were part of it and when it's peaceful it's great. It sucks the door got kicked in but when it comes to human lives a door is nothing."

Gerson said he also understands people's anger. He's hopeful for the future and has been humbled by the community's support, like from City Life youth volunteers helping clean up.

"Make sure that we imputed love back into the business. They hit him but they did not break him," Antonio Patton, City Life director for the far east side, said. "You guys have came down there and try to poke the dragon and try to pivot us in towards one another and try to push hate with hate. Hate with hate leaves nothing but bloodshed and chaos. It's tearing up our city and that's not what Indianapolis is about."

"Think about how we are going to move forward and what we can do to make a difference," Gerson said. "And that's what we're doing right now."

On Saturday, they're closing the whole block off on Ohio Street outside of Michael's Restaurant between Pennsylvania and Delaware to say thank you to the community for supporting them.