‘It’s utter devastation’: Businesses and community members help cleanup following violent protests

‘It’s utter devastation’: Businesses and community members help cleanup following violent protests

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Community members walked the streets of Richmond Sunday helping local businesses cleanup following the violent protests over the last few nights.

Damages at these businesses ranged from broken windows to looters going through stores like the ABC store on W. Broad Street and the DTLR on Lombardy Street.

The DTLR store was sent up in flames early Sunday morning, fire crews unable to get to the scene right away due to the large crowd of protesters.

For many business owners, they are at a loss for words following the destruction across the City of Richmond.

While flames ravaged the DTLR throughout the night, in the daylight hours it was a different sight.

Windows are gone, beams can be seen hanging from the ceiling, black smoke caked across the walls.

"We understand there's a difference between a protest, but this right here, this isn't protesting no more, you're destroying our home," said Emory Heiston, a member of the Virginia Bandits Car Club.

On Sunday, car club members from across the area came downtown to help with the cleanup process for various businesses.

"We're about to clean up our city,” said Tiniesha Black, a member of the Hottest 16 of VA Car Club. “This is a city we have to raise our kids in and we're going to clean it up."

Some parents even brought their kids to these places of destruction to serve as a lesson.

"I brought my babies out here to see this is not the right way to do this,” said Misty Brown Allen, another member of the Hottest 16 VA Car Club. “You can stand, voice your opinion all you want but do it peacefully. Don't do this."

Dozens of other businesses across the city fell victim to these acts of vandalism.

"It's utter devastation,” said Greg Milefsky, owner of Balance Bicycle Shop on W. Broad Street. “I have nothing, nothing."

Milefsky's bicycle shop of 10 years was destroyed in a matter of hours.

"I come down here at 3:30 a.m. and witnessed people rummaging through my shop while I got a computer," Milefsky said.

A wall that once held 75 bikes, now gone; some bicycles taken right in front of his eyes.

"I walked in through the broken window and then walked out through the broken window with my computer," Milefsky said. “People were just saying if there are anymore bikes left, let’s get a bike.”

While Milefsky said he’s seen an out pour of support following this crime, ultimately, he’s not sure he will be able to rebuild and recoup what was lost.

"It's completely gone," he said.

"I was out here from 9 o'clock until 5 o'clock in the morning,” Heiston said. “I saw what was going on and not one person of color was breaking the windows that I saw."

"This wasn't even the reason for us protesting,” Black added. “We were protesting for police brutality. What did DTLR and Tropical Smoothie and all these stores have to do with that? Nothing!"

Richmond City Mayor Levar Stoney announced a curfew would be in place starting Sunday at 8 p.m. and running through 6 a.m.

Many of the car groups said if more businesses are destroyed overnight Sunday they will be back out on Monday to help clean up.

Protestors have gathered at the J.E.B. Stuart monument demanding justice. Karina Bolster - NBC12 is there with more.

Posted by NBC12 on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Meanwhile, vandalism on some of the Confederate Monuments across the city were the sight for groups of people taking pictures and even some peaceful protestors.

A spokesman for the City of Richmond said cleaning will begin Monday and run throughout the week.

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