As soon as the Charleston curfew lifted at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, business owners, employees, and volunteers were out on King Street accessing damage and sweeping up glass from the previous evening’s civil unrest. The protest against the police killing of George Floyd turned violent, and many restaurants were vandalized.
Some dining rooms were still occupied with customers as agitators ascended down King Street.
“I was very disappointed in the lack of leadership from mayors office last night,” says Vintage Lounge co-owner Nathan Wheeler, “The only reason we were able to clear the dining room and the staff was because of our internal network of restaurateurs who warned us that a crowd was moving up King Street quickly. If it weren’t for concerned citizens, we wouldn’t have been safe.”
Proof bar owner Craig Nelson wrote on Facebook, “We are safe. Our property may be damaged but, nobody stood on our necks. I don’t support this destruction, I despise the looting. I understand the rage. I’m listening. Peace be with you.”
Restaurant owners have boarded up with plywood and are now trying to determine if insurance will cover the damage and stolen items. The violent protest is especially damaging, as many Charleston establishments were just reopening after the coronavirus shutdown.