Who the Looting Ruins: ‘Seventeen years of work is gone’
Luis Tamay is an immigrant with an Ecuadorean restaurant in Minneapolis. Zola Dias is the black owner of a clothing store in Atlanta. Sam Mabrouk has a denim shop in Columbus, Ohio. They're only a few of the people whom intellectuals overlook whenever they rationalize rioting or say that property destruction isn't violence.
"Seventeen years of work is gone," Mr. Tamay told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after his restaurant, El Sabor Chuchi, burned to the ground. When the rioting began, he stood watch. But last Friday he obeyed curfew, believing that the National Guard would control the streets. Then on Facebook he saw video of his restaurant on fire. He told the newspaper he didn't have insurance because it was too expensive.
Safia Munye, a Somali immigrant in Minneapolis, opened Mama Safia's Kitchen in 2018 with money saved for retirement. When the pandemic arrived, NPRreported, she couldn't afford both insurance and to pay her workers. She did the latter. Now the restaurant is wrecked, but she's hardly the intended target of George Floyd protesters. "My heart is broken. My mind is broken," she said. "I know I can't come back from this. But this can be replaced. George's life cannot. George's life was more important."
In Atlanta, Zola Dias lost more than $100,000 in goods from his clothing store, Attom. "I'm very emotional when I talk about it because I put my soul and life in this business," he told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. "I just want to tell people to go and vote. That's the only way to stop it and make a change."
In San Francisco, Grace Jewelers was ransacked. "I can't put a dollar estimate on it now," Paul Zhou, the owner's husband, told the Chronicle. "My wife is devastated." In Dallas, Rodolfo Bianchi's empanada shop was trashed. "It was emotionally heartbreaking to see all of your sweat, blood and tears just shattered," he said. "It wasn't anger, I was just broken."
King's Fashion in Philadelphia is a burned-out mess. "I don't know what to do right now," Helen Woo, a co-owner, told the Journal. "I built it up," said her husband, Sung. "And it's gone. My life is gone." Masum Siddiquee lost about $200,000 of merchandise from his Philly store, MN Fashion and Jewelry. "I have no money right now," he said.
"I lost everything in one night," said Sam Mabrouk, counting an estimated $70,000 in product stolen from his clothing shop in Columbus, Ohio. "That was my savings from 11 years of working. That's what hurts more than anything." In Milwaukee, Katherine Mahmoud's cellphone store was looted empty, which she said had nothing to do with what the Floyd protesters are fighting for. "I look just like them," she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Why?"
Some of these businesses are raising
funds to help put the pieces back together. Some might have insurance to cover
at least a portion of the losses. But others might not survive, and many
companies will go bust quietly, without making the newspapers. Contrast this
heartache with the cavalier attitude shown by at least some intellectuals, who
seem to think that firebombing a local South American restaurant is merely the
persuasive language of the unheard.