TAMPA, Fla. -- Small business owners were left picking up the pieces following Saturday night’s protests that turned awry.
Shoe Mountain in Tampa was looted Saturday, so the business owners put up signs, letting people know it is a black owned business.
They planned to stay at the store overnight Sunday, in hopes of salvaging what’s left.
“We came from the COVID situation, and we just want to get a little break and then you come into this situation it’s like, what’s next?” said Kareef Johnston, owner of Shoe Mountain.
Kareef and his co-owner Chad stood in shock as they watched the events of Saturday night unfold on their security cameras.
“I lost count after about 45 people coming in,” said Chad Douglas, owner of Shoe Mountain.
People broke through their windows and gates and grabbed anything they could get their hands on. Kareef and Chad estimate they lost more than $100,000 in damages and inventory.
“We’re all supposed to be coming together to fight for what is right, but when we see these individuals who really are just looking for an opportunity. It’s just not right,” said Douglas.
Local leaders said they support the peaceful protesters who started the day off, but what we saw Saturday night was a different group of people.
“It turned to the worst with probably some agitators, and organized people being involved in that and creating the mess they created for us,” said Council Member Orlando Gudes with the City of Tampa.
Local leaders were also asking people to continue demanding justice, but to go home before things get out of hand.
“We need you to be peaceful, but if you really want to fight this thing, fight where you can make the real change at the ballot box where you get rid of the folks who don’t think like you and in Tallahassee when we’re up there, walk those hall’s,” said Rep. Dianne Hart (D- Tampa).
And the owners of Shoe Mountain asked people to remember what they’re actually fighting for.
“What we experienced last night wasn’t justice. If that’s what we’re looking for, I can tell you the display of actions that were done last night are definitely not justice,” said Douglas.
Representative Hart said she’s working with the Governor’s Office to see what they can do for these small business owners who have now lost even more.