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Richmond business closes on 'busiest day of the week' over possible protests

Cafe owner: 'There's no way I'm putting my staff at risk'
Maple Bourbon
Posted at 8:04 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-17 20:19:01-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sunday was a quiet day in downtown Richmond, but the level of security showed that law enforcement was prepared for something potentially much bigger.

Barriers, trucks, and police officers cover every corner surrounding Virginia's State Capitol, as the area remains on lockdown.

Fencing now runs through several downtown streets, and the capitol building remains boarded up.

Virginia State Capitol
Virginia State Capitol

It caught many visitors by surprise, including Manny Romero.

Romero's in town from Michigan and thought he would be doing some sight-seeing.

"I'm looking at it like let's go to the monument, capitol building, see if we can get a tour," Romero said. "And I get here, and I'm like... OK?"

Romero said he was shocked by all the enhanced security measures.

"I feel like it's another historic event happening and here we are," he said.

The FBI warned of possible armed protests in capital cities across the country Sunday, but there were no signs of disruption in Richmond as of early Sunday evening.

Jaynell Pittman-Shaw
Jaynell Pittman-Shaw

Still, the owner of Maple Bourbon, which is steps away from Capitol Square, played it safe.

"I decided that we will be closed today, and this is our busiest day of the week," Jaynell Pittman-Shaw said.

It was a hard decision, but necessary due to parking restrictions, road closures, and safety reasons, according to Pittman-Shaw.

"There's no way I'm putting my staff at risk," said Pittman-Shaw.

She said she's already dealing with impacts of COVID-19 on her business, and this is just piling onto her struggles.

"I hope that people understand that, you know, the protesting, and potential rioting also hurt small businesses," said Pittman-Shaw.

Poster image.jpg

She's keeping Maple Bourbon closed Monday as well in light of potential Lobby Day protests.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the heightened security aims to keep Lobby Day demonstrations peaceful.

The protections will be in place through at least Thursday, the day after the Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden.

Governor Northam said the Virginia National Guard is on standby to assist law enforcement if necessary.


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