“It’s not fair”: Business owners clean up after overnight protests

Updated: May. 30, 2020 at 9:53 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, violent protests like those in Minneapolis spilled into the Richmond on Broad Street. The protests which started off with peaceful marching without warning transitioned to acts of vandalism and destruction to local business, property.

By morning the smoking remains of a GRTC pulse bus drew in crowds of onlookers who were at a loss for words

“It’s not fair, it’s not fair if you feel sympathy for someone this is not the way you react,” Moe Armin said.

Armin is the owner and operator of 804 Tobacco Shop & Convenience Mart. In the midst of the riots, his business was broken into and looted for cash and tobacco products. Armin says he was alerted to the break-in after he got a warning on his phone that his alarm had been tripped.

“A business is like someone’s house this my living this how I feed my kids, my family,” Armin said. "I pay taxes, taxes pay for a lot of things like safety for the public as well so that does not give anyone the right to do something like this.”

Armin says he rushed to Broad street from his home after he received the alert from his around 2:30 a.m. but because of the protests, police had taped off the portion of the broad street where his business was located so he wasn’t able to assess the damage until hours later once thee protest died down.

“We are at the end of the month and they broke into the cash box that would be a whole month’s worth of cash,” Armin said. “If they took just a small box of cigarettes and tobacco it would cost a few hundred dollars and if they took more is could be thousands of dollars.”

A business partner of Armin said that they lost roughly $6,000 in cash alone.

Armin says his business is covered by insurance, but that it may take several months for him to recoup his losses.

Up and down broad street other businesses assed the damage from the protests. Richmond Police Headquarters on Grace Street had the entrance to its doors in addition to two large tempered windows shattered with large stones. A squad car was set on fire during the protests and completely destroyed outside of the police station overnight.

Another squad car on Broad Steet was towed off just after 6 a.a with all it’s windows completely destroyed by large stones by rioters. While several buildings were tagged with insults and slurs to police.

By the afternoon public workers were canvasing the locations of the riots using pressure washers to clean off the spray paint on businesses and property while damaged mail dispensers tagged with graffiti were hauled away by Richmond public works.

One of the hardest-hit businesses was Randy Adams DDS. The Large tempered windows framing his business were smashed it with brick paver from nearby trees and bottles of alcohol. From 6 a.m until the afternoon he swept and vacuumed the debris with the help of city leaders and bystanders who wanted to help.

“This business has a lot of blood sweat and tears, 30 years worth”, Randy Adams said.

Adams’s Dentistry practice has been a staple in the Jackson Ward community for over 30 years offering affordable dental health to minority children.

“It’s misguided anger I think, I got caught in the crossfire,” Adams said. I think the damage is going to be expensive."

Fortunately in Adams’s time of need bystanders and Richmond Councilwoman, Kim Gray came to his aids volunteering themselves to help sweep up the shattered glass from his sidewalk and donating plywood to board up his broken windows.

Despite the damage done to his business, Adams says that he plans on opening Monday to help those who still rely on his services.

“Things that don’t kill us make us stronger so I’m still planning on opening,” Adams said. “Hopefully, this does not happen again Saturday night that’s all we can hope.”

Businesses along Broad Street have been boarding up their windows in case there are more protests throughout the weekend.

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