GREENSBORO, N.C. — If you walked down South Elm Street in Greensboro Sunday, you probably encountered mass piles of plywood, shattered glass and the ringing of handsaws and electric drills.
It’s almost an overwhelming site for many store owners whose businesses were hit during Saturday’s demonstrations in the city.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan confirmed to FOX8 that the damage seen on South Elm Street was done by a small group of people who were separate from the peaceful protesters.
“It wasn’t until the very end when people were leaving that the first window was broken, and then the second window was broken. A lot of the protesters said, ‘No, this isn’t what we’re about. This isn’t why we were here….They really expressed their outrage and said, ‘stop!’”
Despite best efforts from protesters, a small crowd began throwing rocks into the windows of businesses in the 500-600 block of South Elm Street.
In at least one store, Stolen Skate Shop, hundreds of dollars of merchandise was stolen.
“My window was broken, and then I saw people coming in and out of the store with product,” explained owner John Martin.
He watched his business be looted through a Facebook live stream.
“At this point, I’m just going to have to get back to sorting through everything and figuring out where we stand,” he said..
Several dozen businesses were damaged in similar ways.
On Sunday, these business owners, their employees and volunteers from the community came to South Elm too help these places clean up as best they can.
“This is what Greensboro is about. When people have been harmed, that they want to pitch in and help make people whole,” said Mayor Vaughan.
Many of the business owners FOX8 spoke with on Sunday said they were really relying on business this weekend. Many of them have just opened up or were going to open up for the first time in two months since being shut down by COVID-19.
“It’s already a slap in the face for the past two months,” described Gate City Candy Company owner Dan Weatherington “Then this happens the first weekend we’re supposed to be open.”
He said he lost more than $10,000 in the past few months due to COVID-19 closures.
He is now missing out on a $1,000 business day on Sunday, as he closes to repair busted windows in his shop.
“It’s killing us…it’s just another day closed.,” he said.
To those businesses, Mayor Vaughan shared optimism, saying there is help out there for them.
“Most people will put this through their insurance…There are a lot of different places for people to go if their insurance doesn’t cover. We’re going to make sure people are made whole,” Vaughan said.