Businesses owners reflect one year after Indianapolis riots, hopeful for future

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One year after rioters ravaged downtown Indianapolis businesses, owners are still feeling the effects.

For some the struggle is financial. For others, it’s emotional. On Tuesday, News 8 caught up several businesses. Each said even after all they went through, they’re still proud to be part of the Indianapolis community.

Behind the broken glass is a barber, a comic book store owner, a shoe repair man and a soup maker: four small business owners still recovering from the riots.

“Glass should not hold us down. Glass is, you know it’s a reflection, it shatters but sometimes it don’t break,” DR Barber Salon’s Derrick Richardson said.

For Richardson, the cut is still deep. He admits, as a black business owner, he thought his barbershop would be spared.

“We ask ourselves why, why me?” Richardson said.

Over at Cento Shoes, the 50 -year-old shop saw its toughest days.

“They had broken all our windows and looted our shop and came in and we had twice the amount of clothing and twice the amount of shoes that you see here and they were all gone,” Michael Cento said.

Because of the trauma, Michael’s brother Tony is now gone too.

“I watched him go from my happy brother to where the stress of this just weighed on him to where, you know, it led to his end because he was so worried about our customers, getting their shoes back or paying them,” Cento said.

A way out felt impossible for many owners. Danielle Cooney from Soupremacy said her mostly lunch business was already struggling because of the pandemic.

“It was only a year ago, and trauma like that takes along time to get through. Our window was broken on Saturday night and then Sunday morning, it was just, I mean, it was devastating down here,” Cooney said.

Just a couple doors down at Downtown Comics, Doug Stephenson stayed in his shop over night on Friday, but by Saturday, he said it became too dangerous. His windows were also shattered.

“We had a lot of activity because I’m on the corner of Market and Pennsylvania downtown, so we had a lot of tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd that got into the store, so the whole store was covered the next morning and, you know, it took about a week for us to get it all cleaned up and get it out of here,” Stephenson recalled.

But, there’s something to be said about all of the businesses still standing, and that’s what they want to focus on moving forward.

Each owner agreed while rioters may have broken glass, they certainly did not break the Circle City.

“Nothing is gonna chase us out, and I’m gonna make sure that because my brother is gone, and that’s my goal: to make Indianapolis better again, to make Cento Shoes better again and I think one day at a time, we’re gonna get there,” Cento said.

“Just like any type of wound, it’s going to take time to heal from. So for us as a community, we have to stick together, support each other and not let pain, hurt and ignorance destroy and tear up what we have,” Richardson said.

Many of the businesses tell News 8 Downtown Indy, Inc. was a huge part of their success following the riots. They said the organization helped with insurance claims and even financially in some cases.


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