SEATTLE – Between the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and other police shootings across the country, tensions are running high.
There is a lot of fear and anxiety about what will happen next in many cities where protesters take to the streets. In Seattle, businesses are bracing for potential violence in the wake of Chauvin’s verdict.
“He hits the snooze button. They’ve already given us notice that they’re going to board the building in anticipation of what might happen tomorrow, the next day. We don’t know when that decision will be made,” said said Joey Rodolfo, owner of Buki Brand.
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Business owners like Rodolfo said they couldn’t forget what happened downtown in May 2020, when a peaceful protest in honor of George Floyd was taken over by rioters who attacked police, smashed windows and looted businesses. Buki Brand was one of dozens of ruined businesses.
“Our store was in the line of fire. People were getting out of computers, throwing our inventory on the streets, throwing our mannequins. So our store was decimated, stones through the windows,” Roldolfo said.
For weeks, Rodolfo’s business was on hold as his team tried to recover from damage and lost revenue. He said he feared history would repeat itself once the Chauvin trial was over. As he plans what might happen, Rodolfo thinks of a permanent solution.
“Once we’re on board again, the final decision is ‘let’s go and close it. Let’s go and shut it down”, and that’s where we are right now. After receiving today’s notice that the building is going to be boarded up, it makes no sense, it doesn’t makes no sense,” Rodolfo said.
Administrators of the Downtown Seattle Association said they are working closely with the Seattle Police Department to be notified of any planned marches and any impact on the downtown area. Administrators said they would contact business owners and residents as they learn more from police.
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“Like others across the country, we are paying close attention to Derek Chauvin’s trial and anticipate a verdict as early as this week. Downtown areas have always been a place where people come to exercise their right to free speech. , and we fully support those who choose to come downtown to demonstrate, protest and have their voices heard peacefully,” said a representative from the Downtown Seattle Association.
Rodolfo said he fears the association’s warning will be enough for the community still recovering from last year.
“It happened because of the lack of leadership. And the fact that our police department was ordered out, they were never allowed to do their jobs or protect law-abiding citizens like Here we are, the taxpayers, having to take this by the chin,” Rodolfo said. “The mayor brings no traffic downtown with no conventions, no cruise ships. Everyone was scared to come downtown. What’s the point of trying to run a business in Seattle? useless.”
With no hope of his corner shop surviving another riot, Rodolfo said he thought it was time to pack up.
“We’re going to start getting our goods out. It makes no sense to stay in there, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, at least not any time soon. So it’s time. It’s time to make the difficult decision to move from downtown Seattle,” Rodolfo said.
The Bellevue Police Department also has a riot operations plan in place in the city. The department’s public information officer said its staffing portal would be locked down so no staff would be absent to respond to the riots. The department’s data analysts are monitoring social media for any chatter. The public information officer said he had so far seen or heard no hint of rioting in Bellevue.
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