Shops on Grace and Broad streets damaged in protest over the killing of George Floyd

Windows were smashed and approximately $200,000 worth of merchandise was stolen from the Monument shoe store on West Broad Street. Photo by Zachary Klosko.

Eduardo Acevedo, News Editor
Zachary Klosko, Contributing Writer

Peter Ju, the owner of the Monument shoe store on West Broad Street, stepped over broken glass into his ransacked shop Saturday morning. Shelves were smashed, designer shoes were stolen and the alarm system was blaring as Ju surveyed the damage.

“I’m not really mad because I know where they’re coming from, but it doesn’t have anything to do with a small mom and pop store,” Ju said.

Ju estimates that $200,000 worth of shoes and merchandise was stolen from his shop on Friday night.

“I’ve basically lost everything,” Ju said.

Hundreds gathered during a Black Lives Matter protest on Friday night in downtown Richmond as a result of the death of George Floyd. Protests and riots have broken out nationwide in response to Floyd’s death, which was caught on video. In the video, a white officer can be seen holding his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe.”

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.

Protesters moved down West Broad Street as smoke from a canister filled the air. Photo by Alexandra Zernik

The protest started in Monroe Park and became violent as rocks were thrown through windows, and two police cars and a GTRC Pulse bus were set on fire. Protesters marched on Grace and Broad streets, graffitiing walls and smashing windows of local shops and restaurants. Police administered tear gas canisters and sprayed mace at protesters. 

Richmonders woke up the following morning to a trail of destruction. Lauren Malazarte, a junior at VCU, was out for a walk when she saw the damage to the Monument shoe store for the first time.

“We were pretty shocked,” Malazarte said.

On West Grace Street, several buildings near the VCU campus were damaged, including Bookholders, Chipotle, Noodles and Co., 7-Eleven and RamTech. As of Saturday morning, RamTech’s shelves were nearly empty.

The shelves of RamTech on West Grace Street were nearly empty on Saturday morning as workers cleaned broken glass from the building. Photo by Andrew Ringle

Cleaners were seen removing graffiti that read “VCU doesn’t care, BLM!” from the side of the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art building Saturday morning.

“Fuck VCU” and “George Floyd” were spraypainted onto the front doors of The Depot, which is a studio and classroom space for VCUarts students. VCU Police sent two alerts to students about disorderly crowds early Saturday morning before resolving them around 5 a.m.

A GRTC Pulse bus which was damaged, graffitied and set on fire during the protest. The fire caused a major disruption at the intersection of Broad and Belvidere streets as police attempted to keep the protesters from the bus.

As police officers stopped protesters from approaching the burning Pulse bus, one protester got behind the wheel of a parked and graffitied GRTC bus and drove it down Broad Street.

Richmond resident Sidney Roane said he was disappointed with the protesters while he took pictures Saturday of the damage to Monument Avenue to share on his social media. Roane said he understands why people are upset, but he believes the protests should have remained in Minneapolis.

“We shouldn’t have nothing to do about it,” Roane said. “Where it happened at, it should’ve stayed at.”

Juliani Lee, an incoming transfer student from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, attended the protest Friday night but left after a police car was set on fire in front of the Richmond Police Station on West Grace Street.

“I understand wanting to share your message with the community, but taking the time to loot and steal is awful,” Lee said.

Lee said he was disappointed in what he saw.

“I can see the city coming together,”  Lee said, “but meaningless destruction is not how you’re going to get your voice heard.”

Police formed a line facing protesters on Friday night during the Black Lives Matter protest. Photo by Alexandra Zernik

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