The night of Saturday’s protest in Columbus, Ohio, groups of people moved through downtown and up North High Street breaking business storefronts and looting multiple local businesses.
Protests have lasted for four days in the city following the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody Monday; his death, and others resulting from police action, sparked protests around the country.
Even with a strong police presence and a curfew, stores in the Ohio State campus area were not safe from the looting and damages that occurred Saturday night. Multiple stores and restaurants on North High Street such as Five Guys, GameStop, Cazuela’s Mexican Cantina and a Verizon Wireless store were damaged, with the entire glass storefront of the Verizon store shattered.
The events that followed Saturday’s protests touched the black Columbus business community, which not only damaged storefronts and looted merchandise but split the reaction of black business owners and employees.
Seano Perry, a manager at the Verizon store near campus, said he believes that the looting does not have a large effect on business.
Perry said he understands the anger in the city but doesn’t understand why people would loot businesses.
“They got a bunch of meaningless stuff; it’s insured,” Perry said. “I understand why everybody’s doing it, but some stuff don’t make sense, though.”
A tweet from Dionte’ Johnson, a former Ohio State fullback and the owner of Sole Classics, a shoe store. His Short North location was damaged during Saturday night’s looting.
If looting and rioting is so wrong and un-American then please explain to me what I was taught in school about the Boston Tea Party. Samuel Adams led the charge and he has a whole beer named after him. On one hand, from a business perspective this sucks. Shoot, I got looted too.
— Dionte’ (@DionteSays) May 31, 2020
For other owners whose businesses were looted in the city, such as Jonicca Glover, looting not only hurts businesses financially but also takes an emotional toll on the staff. Glover, a businesswoman, owns The Hair Gym, a beauty boutique on East Broad Street.
“I’ve been in that building over 10 years, so it was hard because it’s blood, sweat and tears every day when I walk in that door; to make sure I go to work to pay for that building so I can have a job and I can serve the community,” Glover said. “And the community affected my business, so my feelings are hurt.”
Rapheal Jones, the owner of Next Level Cleaning Service, helped Perry clean up glass and board up windows at the campus-area Verizon Wireless.
“Some people say that it’s helpful. I don’t believe it’s helpful; it’s just causing mayhem,” Jones said.
Perry said that looting black-owned businesses is entirely counter-productive.
“Y’all are hurting your own brothers, at the end of the day. What’s the point in doing that?” Perry said. “Some people not doing it for the actual cause, people are just doing it, like I said, to steal.”
Perry said although he agrees that looting is wrong and stealing from small businesses is uncalled for, he feels that these things would not happen if black voices were being heard.
“They tried to do it peacefully, that didn’t work. They kneeled, they complained about us kneeling. That didn’t work,” Perry said, referring to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the playing of the national anthem.