Protests in Greensboro over the death of George Floyd turned destructive overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning, representing perhaps the most chaotic uprising the city has seen in years.
As the sun rose on Sunday, police, business owners and city crews assessed the damage and began the cleanup process. Community members walked and drove by to see for themselves the state of downtown.
At least 19 businesses were damaged in the 500 and 600 blocks of S. Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, including broken windows, stolen merchandise, and ransacked interiors.
Debris left behind on the streets and sidewalk included glass shards, alcohol bottles, burned clothing, a baby stroller, masks, and trash.
Cleanup crews with the city of Greensboro used leaf blowers and a street sweeper to clean up S Elm Street. Business owners banded together to support each other emotionally and during the cleanup process.
Greensboro police investigators spoke with business owners and collected evidence of the damage, including searching for fingerprints and taking photos of the businesses. At 5 a.m., there were at least a dozen police vehicles and no protesters remaining.
The owner of Gate City Candy Company spoke with WFMY News 2 the morning after the protests. He said he watched from an upstairs window as protesters picked up the bench outside his business and used it to smash the front door. While he said nothing was stolen, the closure and costly cleanup will mean further financial setback following coronavirus closures.
The owner of Mellow Mushroom said alcohol, terminals, and an iPad were stolen from his business after the windows were smashed.
Social Status, another business on S. Elm Street, was the focus of police investigators and the manager said that between $40,000 and $50,000 worth of luxury merchandise and streetwear was stolen during the protest.
The owner of Green City Goods said that three-fourths of his merchandise was either stolen or damaged after windows were smashed. He said he supports protesters and is also outraged about the recent deaths of Black Americans.
Mayor Nancy Vaughn said it was a group of outsiders who caused most of the destruction.
Greensboro Police Chief Brian James and Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers spoke during the news conference.
“The people who came into our county last night and brought the destruction with them, we will not tolerate that,” Rogers said.
“Yesterday, I saw the best in law enforcement. I saw patience, tolerance and corporation with our citizens in an effort to provide a peaceful environment for people to express their first amendment rights. Unfortunately, that was disrupted by people that wanted to destroy,” James said.