Threat of looters still on minds of Louisville business owners

Threat of looters still on minds of Louisville business owners
African American businesses owners have resorted to posting signs on their stores hoping to prevent their businesses from being looted.
African American businesses owners have resorted to posting signs on their stores hoping to prevent their businesses from being looted. (Source: Mike Fussell, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The windows and doors at the Marketplace Restaurant on Fourth Street are now all boarded up. When owner George Stinson showed up last Friday, he didn’t expect to see what he did.

"There were 50 to 100 people just carrying out whatever they could carry out," Stinson said.

Stinson adds he tried to grab a basket of his products back from a looter, but got tackled to the ground by several others who were with him. Stinson said he then curled up into a ball with police nowhere in sight.

"They were kicking me," Stinson said. "Then, they were just throwing the liquor."

A man he knew from the nearby Brown Hotel eventually convinced the men to leave.

"The guy helped me up and said George please get in your car and leave this place," Stinson said. "Your life is more valuable than your business."

Two blocks south, Sylvester Gurnell, owner of Happy Endings Bartending, said he's been camping outside his store every night for the past week to make sure it stays safe.

"Last night was day number seven," Gurnell said. "So, it's been very exhausting, but necessary at the same time. The cause is worth fighting for. So, I'm willing to make that sacrifice to sit out front and regroup later on with the business."

Gurnell said he typically sets out a table, sits and talks to people passing by.

"The interactions have been great actually," Gurnell said. "I can say that across the board from protesters to the National Guard to the police force as well."

Despite that, curfew and coronavirus have made for a tough couple months of business.

"It's brought it to a standstill," Gurnell said.

Gurnell may not have had the same experience as those down the street, but he and Stinson want the same thing - to make sure their businesses survive and, at the same time, allow for peaceful protests seeking progress.

"I've never seen all races come together and make a change as what happened this week," Gurnell said.

Stinson said he doesn't believe those who were looting were protesters, rather criminal opportunists.

"I've seen my dreams and other peoples dreams going in a flash," Stinson said. "I don't think that's what Louisville is really about."

Stinson said neighboring businesses have been helping each other clean up.

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