Americans are rebuilding after protests over the police killing of George Floyd devolved into looting, vandalism, and arson across America that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. It may not be possible to restore the damage caused by the riots, but truly inspiring generosity has made itself known in the wake of the horrific devastation.
Princess Pope spent years building her Guns and Roses Boutique shop in Dallas, but looters cleaned it out in fifteen minutes. “They had taken everything. 95% of our clothing [was] taken. Things were taken. Mannequins were down the street. The list just goes on,” the business owner told the local ABC News affiliate.
Similarly, black business owner K.B. Balla broke into tears while recounting the destruction wreaked upon his sports bar in Minneapolis. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do, I worked so hard to get here, so hard,” he said. Balla, a fireman, had invested his life savings into this Scores Sports Bar. The bar had planned its grand opening in the spring but coronavirus lockdowns put it on pause. As a GoFundMe page explains, “Scores Sports Bar was LOOTED, VANDALIZED, and DESTROYED.” Looters cleaned it out, twice, destroying his life’s work.
Thanks to the generosity of Americans, however, this is not the end of these entrepreneurs’ stories.
A GoFundMe campaign for Scores Sports Bar aimed to raise $100,000 to help rebuild the business. As of Thursday, it has raised $1,142,720, and more than 37,000 people have contributed.
Similarly, more than four thousand people have contributed to help Princess Pope, raising $120,581 of the fundraiser’s $100,000 goal.
On the morning of June 10, Guns and Roses Boutique remained in shambles. “Shards of glass still carpeted the floor, shelves were sideways, and hangers were strewn across the hardwood. Plywood on the windows acted as a bandage,” D Magazine reported. The Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce organized a group effort, leading more than 30 people armed with brooms to clean up the store.
“Everybody just poured into us, and that’s really what’s helped me get through these days,” Pope told the magazine.
Jeff Lisles, senior vice president of Vista Bank, which worked with the chamber of commerce to organize the clean-up, called the experience “exciting.”
“We showed up and there was a line around the store. [It] is incredible to see the sheer amount of people from every walk of life that showed up and were willing to lend a helping hand and roll up their sleeves,” Lisles said. “It’s very exciting.”
Lawana Gladney, a Facebook friend of Pope’s came out to clean up with her daughter. “My heart just bled because, as a business owner myself, I know how hard you work, and I kept thinking, What if all I’ve done was just torn down?” Gladney said. “I’d just cry tears.”
Looting, vandalism, and arson are destructive acts. They may not take lives directly, but they can destroy livelihoods and lay waste what entrepreneurs have worked years to build. Those who dismiss businesses as mere “property” able to be easily replaced with insurance seem not to grasp the visceral pain of having your life’s work ransacked by an angry mob.
Those who seek to justify looting and rioting are not just ignoring real pain and suffering but encouraging a cycle of destruction that leaves real people in its wake. The riots that ostensibly aimed to improve life for black people actually destroyed the livelihoods of black business owners like Princess Pope and K.B. Balla.
Thanks to American generosity, these businesses appear to be on the mend. But for every K.B. Balla and Princess Pope, there are many other victims of rioting and looting who may not be able to raise the kind of money they need to rebuild their businesses. Even in these cases, the businesses lost the opportunity to operate for the time they need to clean up and rebuild.
It is truly heartwarming that Americans have reached out to help these victims, but that does not erase the destruction of the riots. Even if every business targeted by looting, destruction, and arson were to raise money on GoFundMe to reopen, that would not erase the wasted weeks of business and the psychological toll on entrepreneurs watching their livelihoods go up in flames.
Americans cannot forget the destruction of the riots or the despicable trend among Democrats and liberals to excuse this violence.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.