Community steps in to support black-owned business damaged during Indianapolis protests, riots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Several black-owned businesses weren’t spared from the weekend’s damage. The shock of seeing their business is in shambles was a lot for owners to take in.

One downtown business owner said there was some frustration at first, but it led to understanding that there’s a deeper problem.

The damage reflected around downtown Indianapolis is a mirror image of other cities across the country after days of protest, following a Minneapolis man’s death after an encounter with police.

“I mean I was shocked knowing that we are a black-owned business. I know and I understand the reason why they are protesting,” Romeo Gerson, Michael’s Soul Kitchen co-owner, said.

People damaged businesses of all kinds, including black-owned businesses that include Michael’s Soul Kitchen.

“We were supposed to be opening this week, doing more delivery and pickup. With this happening, we’ll just have to push it a few more days,” Gerson said.

He said it was a shock to see the restaurant hit with $10,000 worth of damage. Despite the damage, he says the community is also making sure it’s getting fixed.

“We understand we weren’t actually the target and we’ll just move forward,” Gerson said.

The Indy Black Chamber of Commerce said businesses like this are vital to the local black economy.

George Middleton is a therapist and chamber board member. He watched the weekend’s events unfold.

“It’s understandable, again, I’m coming from a mental health perspective. You’re seeing repressed generational effects of trauma,” Middleton said.

He said the chamber is moving a bit faster with plans that were already in the works to better assist black-owned businesses.

The chamber will soon kick off its mental health disparities initiative and a three part series called “The Knee.”

“Cleaning up and addressing our environment has to be one of our initiatives,” he said.