A symbol of change: Downtown Louisville businesses remove plywood

A symbol of change: Downtown Louisville businesses remove plywood
As protests in downtown Louisville have reduced in number, many businesses have begun to remove plywood from their windows and doors.
As protests in downtown Louisville have reduced in number, many businesses have begun to remove plywood from their windows and doors. (Source: Elizabeth Pace, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After more than 100 days of protests in downtown Louisville, many businesses have begun removing plywood barriers in an effort to move forward.

“Anything we can do to help bring downtown back to what it was, whether it be peaceful protesting or COVID-19, anything we can do to help would be good,” said Max Bloom, a restaurant owner.

WAVE 3 News file photo: Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds addresses a crowd at the steps of Metro Hall on July 13.
WAVE 3 News file photo: Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds addresses a crowd at the steps of Metro Hall on July 13. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

A majority of protests have remained peaceful in downtown Louisville. However, some looters have caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage. As the public anticipated a verdict in the Breonna Taylor case, many businesses didn’t want to risk the damage and boarded up their stores.

“We did it right before the attorney general announcement, that was just out of an abundance of precaution,” Bloom said. “We didn’t have any property damage in the months prior, but with us getting so close to opening we did it just to be safe.”

Now that fewer people are gathering for protests, some stores are slowly removing plywood from its windows. Bloom said he felt a responsibility to direct a narrative that it’s safe downtown. He was one of the first businesses to remove the barriers over the weekend.

“I live downtown,” Bloom said. “I walk around. I see slowly that more foot traffic and vehicle traffic is picking up. We just thought we hadn’t had any issues and it was just a good thing to do.”

Bloom will be opening his new restaurant, Smoked on Second, and upscale bar, One Thirty Three, on Thursday, Oct. 8.

Downtown Louisville has seemed like a ghost town for most of 2020, with capacity cuts due to COVID-19, a majority of businesses working remotely, and social unrest. For about five months, windows on buildings on dozens of blocks were covered with plywood.
Downtown Louisville has seemed like a ghost town for most of 2020, with capacity cuts due to COVID-19, a majority of businesses working remotely, and social unrest. For about five months, windows on buildings on dozens of blocks were covered with plywood.

Greater Louisville Inc. is calling on all businesses to follow suit and remove the boards. Friday, its president and CEO, Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, released a statement calling for “real change.”

“Currently, the boards, barricades, and fencing downtown send a different message. A message that perpetuates fear and discourages our citizens, employees, and visitors from supporting the vibrancy of our urban core,” Davasher-Wisdom’s message stated in part. “We must send a different message for our region to grow and be competitive with business and talent attraction.”

Last week, Davasher-Wisdom said the GLI Board of Directors met with Louisville Metro on the removal of boards and barricades from government facilities and city streets. Monday, we found crews removing plywood from daycares and parking garages.

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Get the WAVE 3 News app on ROKU, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News)