Downtown Lansing businesses react to looting and vandalism

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 8:05 PM EDT
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Downtown Lansing businesses look toward the future after several were damaged by rioters Sunday night and left with broken windows, fires, and graffiti.

The city of Lansing estimates the damage to public buildings and private businesses is in the thousands of dollars.

Linn and Owen Jewelers, which has been around for more than 100 years, was one the businesses who had merchandise stolen and windows shattered.

Owner Stewart Powell says he saw some of the looting happen.

"I had come down because I got the first notice from my alarm company that there was something going on and so I came down and it was... I parked across the street and I was watching as more damage was being done," said Powell.

Powell says a majority of the protesters were trying to stop the violence and he understands their message. He says a couple of good Samaritans gathered some of the merchandise to protect it from further vandalism and returned it in the morning.

"That's Lansing. Those are our friends and neighbors," said Powell. "That's the world I envision, not the world that happened last night."

This damage comes in the middle of a global pandemic as small businesses already felt an economic strain.

Soul Nutrition opened downtown Lansing about six months ago and had their dumpster set on fire during the looting. Owner Olivia Ricketts says the experience has been nothing like what she imagined.

"Having multiple protests during the pandemic, the second protest when like 10,000 cars came and shut down the roads, and our regulars couldn't come in and just having the 'no problem' attitude then and then the protests last night and just watching local businesses get broken into. It definitely has been a journey, but it's also been a learning experience," said Ricketts.

The 22-year-old is choosing to be positive about the situation and even helped tear gassed protesters Sunday night.

"Just being a difference and letting my light shine through, and I truly believe I was like a guardian angel," said Ricketts.

Black owned Juice Nation was spared from the damage. A few community members stood in front of the store and guarded it.

"It was really nice to know that they support us," said Taylor Richard.

Richard and her parents went downtown on Monday to help their neighbors clean up their shops.

"It's hard right now. You just want everyone to come together and do things peacefully, so we pray for everything that's going on. We pray for peace," said owner Tameko Richard.

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