Volunteers vow to stand arm-in-arm to protect 120-year-old shop damaged in Richmond riots

'From the bottom of my heart, I love you. Thank you, everybody.'
Posted at 2:55 PM, May 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-31 19:11:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Volunteers and business owners converged on Broad Street Sunday morning to begin cleaning up from Saturday's destructive riots in Richmond.

One of the businesses damaged was Waller & Company Jewelers at 19 East Broad Street.

The family said their 120-year-old shop was hit on Friday and Saturday night.

The owner's niece guarded the shop until 12:30 a.m. early Sunday, but once she left people broke in and stole things, according to the family.

Photos show some of the shop's windows and display cases smashed.

"Owner is thankful they didn’t touch the 1922 display case he used to clean when he was young," reporter Cameron Thompson said.

Members of sororities, fraternities and other volunteers turned out Sunday morning to help clean up the store.

"We've got your back, trust and believe. We are all here to clean up," an organizer said.

Volunteers vowed to stand arm-in-arm to protect businesses tonight.

Mr. Waller said he hoped to keep the shop secure when they will hopefully reopen full-time.

"I'm generally open from 9 until 5:30 Monday through Saturday. Our business is a 120-year-old business. My grandfather started it," Mr. Waller said.

The store owner choked back tears and said he was touched by the show of support.

"We can't let other people come in and tear down what these people have built up," an organizer said. " This really hurts."

The owner's sister also thanked the throng of folks gathered in front of the shop.

"Thank you to all my good sisters and brothers. Thanks to all of you," she said. "I love you all. From the bottom of my heart, I love you. Thank you, everybody."

The business added a sign to a window Sunday morning stating the jewelry store is a "small black-owned business.

"Please don't break our windows," the sign reads.

An online fundraiser has been established to help the family pay for the repairs. As of 6:45 p.m. Sunday, more than $700 had been raised.

Click here if you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe account.

Outsiders spark Richmond riots: 'This is an organized effort'

The violent and destructive protests that took place in downtown Richmond both Friday and Saturday nights were sparked by people from outside the city, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Richmond Police Chief Will Smith said during a Sunday morning press conference.

“We have people from across the country who have traveled many states to be here. We know that this is an organized effort,” Chief Smith said. “We're committed to try and identify those that are behind it. And we're doing our very level best to arrest those that are perpetrating the violence on our community, our city, and against our citizens.”

Mayor Stoney announced Richmond would be under curfewbeginning Sunday at 8 p.m. and that the Virginia National Guard was prepared help maintain the curfew if needed.

He also addressed the protests that have turned from peaceful to violent each night.

“Peaceful protests in solidarity against the injustices of black men hijacked by bad actors. As soon as you loot a store or set a public bus on fire, you're not demonstrating. You've made it about you,” Mayor Stoney said. "When you block law enforcement from allowing fire services to get to a home that has caught on fire. You are not inspiring change. When you knock out windows of businesses that had nothing to do with this, you are not inspiring change. That's an insult to the cause.”

Chief Smith said the physical violence reported in Richmond, including a Sunday morning shooting, has been protestor on protestor violence.

“The man shot last night was shot by a protester,” he said. “We've had a number of people that have been injured by thrown bottles, rocks, bricks, everything that you can imagine, thrown by other protesters. As the mayor said, our protest has started out peacefully every single night with respectful people voicing their legitimate concerns. We've been able to facilitate them in their First Amendment rights, but it hasn't taken too long each night before actors have taken over the protest and have changed the tone.”

Anyone with information on the shooting in Richmond was asked to call Major Crimes Detective D. Cuffley at 804-646-6795 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

Officials blame differing groups of 'outsiders' for violence

Various state and federal officials across the country seem to agree that groups of “outsiders” are responsible for the most destructive protesting in U.S. cities.

But those officials have offered differing assessments of who those outsiders are.

They’ve blamed left-wing extremists, far-right white nationalists, and even suggested the involvement of drug cartels.

These leaders have offered little evidence to back up those claims, and the chaos of the protests makes verifying identities and motives exceedingly difficult.

This is a developing story.



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