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Downtown businesses still boarded up as city awaits AG’s Breonna Taylor decision

August 13 marked five months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by LMPD. Some businesses downtown have been boarded up since protests in her name began.
Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 9:43 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Thursday marked five months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville Metro Police officers. In that time, thousands have come to Louisville to protest her death and call for change within the community.

During the protests, rioters and looters took advantage of opportunities to damage property, start fires and wreak havoc across the city. Because of that, several downtown Louisville businesses have boarded up their doors and windows and decided to temporarily close.

The showroom at A Taste of Kentucky in Middletown is filled with unique merchandise. On the...
The showroom at A Taste of Kentucky in Middletown is filled with unique merchandise. On the other hand, the downtown location is boarded up.(Courtesy: WAVE 3 News)

In Middletown, A Taste of Kentucky looks the store that’s become known for bourbon and the Kentucky Derby. The shelves are stocked with products indicative of the Bluegrass State. But the location on Market Street is hiding behind plywood.

“It’s a disaster down there,” owner John Hassman said.

Since protests started in May, Hassman’s downtown location has been closed. The business he usually attracts from tourists and conventions has dried up. Combine that with the coronavirus pandemic, and his sales across the board are down dramatically.

“The stores are all down double digits, 30 percent or more,” Hassman said. “We’ve had to lay off people, which hurts. It’s a mixed bag right now and it’s not a pretty picture.”

The past six months have forced him to get creative, in order to save the business he’s spent decades building up.

Hassman believes he will survive the year, but other downtown businesses will not be that lucky. Some have closed for good, while others have filed a class-action lawsuit against the City of Louisville, trying to make back in money what the looters stole in merchandise.

“There are restaurants, there are shops, there are boutiques, some of which will never open up again,” Hassman said. “And it’s only because of the damage that was caused by a few people. Not the demonstrators, but the looters, the ones who take advantage of the situation.”

The situation still has no clear end in sight. On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron met with Breonna Taylor’s family. Taylor’s family’s attorney Ben Crump told reporters Thursday he met with Mayor Greg Fischer this week. Though both meetings were considered “positive,” neither Crump nor Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, have indicated they know when a decision will come down in the case.

On Thursday, Crump pushed for Fischer and his administration not to punish protesters.

“Don’t try to take their First Amendment rights to assemble and protest away from them. Work with them,” Crump said.

Hassman said there’s a difference between getting closure and being closed.

“It’d be nice if we could separate those two somehow. Looting is not permissible.”

“So it’d be nice if we could separate [protesters and looters] somehow,” Hassman said. “Looting is not permissible.”

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