INDIANAPOLIS — The majority of the protests this past weekend were peaceful. Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters marched the streets of Indianapolis seeking justice for the recent killing of Geroge Floyd and many other black Americans killed at the hands of police officers.
Protesters chanted and walked arm in arm for hours to get their message across: Black Lives Matter. Although powerful, the most poignant of impacts left on the minds of Indianapolis residents is the damage left behind once the sunset on the Circle City, and things started to turn violent.
Windows were broken, graffiti drawn on city monuments, tear gas and rubber bullets deployed by officers, and even fires started by looters.
Those arguably facing the most repercussions from the looting this weekend are the local business owners, who have already had to face the impacts of COVID-19.
About 112 businesses in downtown Indy reported some level of damage due to looting, fires, spray paint, or other sorts of destruction.
One person RTV6 talked to over the weekend volunteering his time to clean up the city said it's heartbreaking to see what business owners have to go through right now.
"Just got past COVID unemployment already at 45% these businesses who are now coming back probably can't employ people now because of the destruction," Nathan Medsker, a volunteer helping clean the downtown area, said. "They are already struggling so for them to have to repair the store and delay their opening even farther, furlough more employees ... it's heartbreaking at the least."
Many retail stores and other businesses were damaged or looted downtown. Several of those business owners have spoken out since to either voice their concern or their understanding.
Business owners react to the damage
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Patachou has been hit hard by the pandemic. And, two of our locations were damaged by the vandalism that occurred two nights in a row in downtown Indianapolis. No one stopped to say “oh that’s a pretty cool company. They support local this and that. Their business practices are aligned with good things.They are trying really hard“ - instead our windows were taken out by bullets, trash cans and rocks. And, after being closed for over two and a half painful af months, the very weekend the Keystone at the Crossing location of @napolesepizzeria reopened, we were told that the mall was closing due to potential business disruption by protesters. Yet, nobody held us down and placed a deadly knee on our throats for almost nine minutes. We support those fighting for equal justice for all and vow to do our part to be better anti-racist allies, to better support ad advocate for African-Americans, and just do better at being better humans. I cannot imagine that the majority of Americans or the majority of my customers would think any differently. MSH #wecanbebetter
Patachou Inc. had two of its locations, Napolese and Patachou, vandalized this weekend.
Founder and owner, Martha Hoover, said in a social media posted her thoughts on social media Sunday, saying, in part:
"And, after being closed for over two and a half painful af months, the very weekend the Keystone at the Crossing location of @napolesepizzeria reopened, we were told that the mall was closing due to potential business disruption by protesters. Yet, nobody held us down and placed a deadly knee on our throats for almost nine minutes."
Silver in the City
Although it has not faced any destruction from the weekend, Silver in the City had a response to the damage some of its neighbors may have seen and provided their stance on the national Black Lives Matter movement.
In a social media post, the business said, "Let's focus less on property damage and more on corruption and accountability. Together we can (rebuild) a system that is just."
Glass to the Downtown Comics store was also broken. The owners stated in a tweet on Sunday, "Even though we feel lucky our store survived it with moderate loss and damage, the genuine love and well wishes we've received from our customers, staff (both present and former), and fellow retailers in the Indy comics community, is something none of us will ever forget."
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As one of the owners - Today, I did what I could. This all may be deeper than “all lives matter.” Because that takes away from the black community currently being equal. I may not understand “Black Lives Matter” because I’ve never once lived a day as a black man/woman. But what I do know is, I care. I care far more than any of you know. Thank you David Reilich for helping us carry these through the city! I made an oath to serve this country when I enlisted in the ARMY. I still have the integrity, honor, and commitment to do just that. I will serve this community. Right now, this is the only way I know how. My heart hurts and I’m still trying to figure out ways we can help. But please know, this is indeed something we are all in together. I post this, because I know the pain. I know the pain of calling out the wrong in the world and for my words to fall on deaf ears and worse - to be labeled the troublemaker. I know the feeling all to well. This is going to take a lot of healing. A lot of time. But for this to get better, we have to start calling out the wrong in the world. Standing up for right and wrong. Stop not getting involved because it doesn’t effect you immediately. Because right now, we are all affected. Sincerely, Tyler
The co-owners of Banzi Ballons posted on Instagram a picture of the balloon art his team made for the city.
The business' post read, in part, "I may not understand 'Black Lives Matter' because I’ve never once lived a day as a black man/woman. But what I do know is, I care. I care far more than any of you know.'
Downtown Indy Inc.
The president and CEO of the not-for-profit organization, Sherry Seiwert, addressed the violence that happened this weekend in a statement. It reads, in full here:
"The safety and wellbeing of person and property for those who live, work and visit Downtown is Downtown Indy, Inc.’s greatest concern shared by our business members and partners.
What took place last night and early this morning did remarkable and senseless damage to businesses and residential properties that will take millions to rebuild and restore. What is most devastating is that the businesses targeted with destruction and looting are the very businesses seeking to lift up racial inequities by employing men and women of all races and minorities – but will now be closed for weeks, months and perhaps forever.
Downtown Indy, Inc. calls on all business and community leaders of all races to demand an end to illegal and dangerous behaviors that have riddled our urban core. We also call upon these same leaders to seek to understand the pent-up anger existing in minority communities and speak out against injustice and inequality and make systemic changes where appropriate."
Jack's Donuts faced a lot of destruction from the first night of protests, on Friday. The owner, Chris Karnavis, spoke with RTV6 while cleaning up on Saturday.
"I don't know what the answer is but this is not the answer. Destroying our downtown, destroying anything is not the answer," Karnavis said. "It was like being in a war zone. They were pepper spraying the whole downtown, there was fires everywhere, they were alarms going off. Windows being broken stuff being broken. I mean this is just ridiculous."