‘Kansas City, the community is our heart’: Plaza business owners heartbroken after violent protests

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — First it was COVID-19, now it’s protests over police brutality. Businesses on the Country Club Plaza feel like they’ve been dealt a one-two punch in the first-half of 2020. Protesters put two Kansas City police officers in the hospital Saturday night and left significant damage for local businesses to clean up.

Shattered glass littered the walkways of the Country Club Plaza Sunday morning after protesters rampaged the business district. Business owners are heartbroken.

“Kansas City, the community is our heart. We love the Plaza,” said Chrysalen Huff, owner of RE: Emporium on the Plaza.

Even after broken windows and 75 days of closure due to COVID-19, the owners of RE: on the Plaza still support the protesters. Owners had signs hanging from their windows Friday night, but it didn’t stop protesters from smashing them.

“We wanted to say that we hear you, feel you and we appreciate you sharing your voice,” Huff said.

Volunteers came unsolicited to help pick up the pieces. Beverly Greene was among the first scooping rocks and water bottles into trash bags to haul away.

“I think we just need to pray, pray, pray, pray. I don’t think coming out being angry is going to solve a problem,” she said. 

Willie Evans was actually at Saturday’s protest for several hours before it turned ugly. He understands the anger, but he was left cleaning up the destruction.

“We’ve picked up most of the trash. That’s not the thing that really matters here, when we wake up in the morning and people are dead. You can’t replace a human life,” Evans said.

One by one volunteers, store owners, and police officers scooped up decorative rocks out of the medians dividing streets on the Plaza. They were used as weapons against officers Saturday night, injuring many and sending two to the hospital with serious injuries.

“I want to tell the people out there, ‘Don’t throw rocks,'” Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte said. “It’s okay to protest and make your demands, but don’t throw rocks. We don’t want anyone injured. We know as law enforcement we’ve made some mistakes over the years and we continue to make some mistakes. We have to admit, we need to change.”

RE: Emporium has taken extra safety measures in boarding up their windows to protect against more damage.

“It is not because we don’t support the protest. It is because a lot of people work for us, and we need to keep them working. Trying to protect our merchandise and space allows them to come back to work this week,” Huff said.

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