GREENSBORO, N.C. — Monday in Greensboro came with a high temperature of 74 degrees and a radiant blue sky. In the words of FOX8 Chief Meteorologist Van Denton, the weather was “perfect.” But, if you drove down Elm Street and had no idea of what happened across the country over the weekend, you would have thought a storm was coming. Businesses were boarded up as though a hurricane was headed for North Carolina. But the storm had already passed.
Sunday night came with peaceful protestors speaking out in the wake of the death of George Floyd. But, as the day was coming to a close, it was looters who began to emerge. Businesses had their windows smashed, some, with their owners still inside.
“Driving down Elm Street, I was in tears,” said Jennifer Graf, owner of Vintage to Vogue Boutique.
Graf says she was alone inside her store when her windows were smashed. She pleaded with the people vandalizing her building to stop. But, she says, it was the peaceful protesters who banded together and protected her and her store.
Others weren’t as lucky.
Becky Causey, owner of The View on Elm, was notified by her alarm company that looters had taken over her store around 11:30. She and a friend then headed to the store to take inventory.
There wasn’t much inventory that hadn’t already been taken.
“I came through the back door and I have no words,” Causey said.
In her words, the store is “decimated.”
“We can’t just bounce back tomorrow,” she added.
As local painter Gina Franco made her way downtown, she was greeted by the scent of sawdust and sound of hammers and drills. But, being creative by nature, Franco had a vision.
“I’m driving down here and I’m like, ‘wow, look at all this canvas,’” she said.
Franco packed her trunk with gallons of paint, a ladder and tools and started asking business owners if she could use their plywood to create something beautiful.
“Challenging my other local artist friends to come out and talk to the business owners and see if they would like some artwork,” she explained.
In a matter of hours, the once bare plywood was decorated with art, names, messages of unity and so on.
“Something just bright, colorful, positive,” Franco said.
Sarah McDavid, owner of Terra Blue, says her building was decorated with graffiti well before last weekend.
“I don’t mind graffiti in positive frames. I never have. I mean we’ve had graffiti on the side of our building for years and they tried taking it off and we’re like, ‘leave it.’ That’s such a beautiful piece of art. It’s OK with us. You know, it’s an expression of someone’s soul,” she detailed.
McDavid said the art going up on Greensboro’s main strip is a show of “community solidarity.”
“Love, peace, togetherness,” she said. “Let us fight for justice.”
At a time where there is severe unrest in America, when people are being asked to distance themselves, Monday was simply the latest show of people coming together for what they believe in.
“It’s a good idea,” Graf said. “It’s a way that we can come together and unite.”
Franco and other artists remained on Elm Street until Monday’s curfew went into effect. She plans to go back out to the area on Tuesday.