TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa's police chief is committing to protect black-owned businesses that might be targeted for looting.
"At 22nd and MLK, the heart of the black community, they broke into a grocery store and we’re just not going to let them tear down any of our community, but especially the black community," Chief Brian Dugan said Monday.
It happened during a protest honoring George Floyd on Sunday night that centered along the intersection of North 22nd Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Employees at Hope Food Store tell ABC Action News, a trio of people smashed the glass front door and stole several items.
Customers are confident that anyone who would take advantage of the longtime East Tampa staple was not from their neighborhood.
"You got these thugs are taking advantage and messing up the whole process of the protest. They’re infiltrating the protest," said Chester Stone.
Since Saturday, several locally-owned businesses have been hit by looters during widespread protests in Tampa Bay.
As for Hope Food Store, employees are grateful for loyal customers and the community for helping them recover.
"Hope stands for helping our people excel, simple as that," said Stone.