Downtown businesses try to recoup after damage from weekend riots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Businesses are boarded up for blocks in downtown Indianapolis, many completely closed, after a weekend of protests and riots.

The businesses that News 8 spoke with are not upset about the protest. They are upset with the damage and the timing of it all, leaving many wondering if they are going to be able to recover.

“It is very, very difficult to walk through my city and see nothing but boards on windows,” said Danielle Cooney, owner of Soupremacy in downtown Indianapolis.

Cooney considers herself lucky, with only one glass panel damaged from the riots over the weekend, allowing her store to remain open. But not everyone is as fortunate.

“After they gained access to my store, they were coming and going for hours, and I was watching the door swing open and closed like this was the public restroom. I mean, people just came and they went and just as freely as they wanted to,” said Greg Bires, owner of Windsor Jewelry Store.

Bires’ store had only been back open for three days due to the coronavirus restrictions before rioters broke in and looted his store on Friday and Saturday nights. The second time, someone broke through the boards that replaced the broken windows from the first night.

“It was like, ‘What do you do?’ You are helpless and that was probably one of the things that hurt me the most — is that we couldn’t stop it,” said Bires.

One thing that these two business owners want to make clear is that they are not upset with protesters who are peacefully demanding change.

“I want the protesting. I want people to be able to protest. I also don’t believe the protesters are the ones who are breaking my windows,” said Cooney.

With stores not only across Indianapolis but across the country in need of glass, businesses are expecting yet another delay due to high demand.

“I am not comfortable taking the boards down even though we didn’t have any rioting last night. I don’t know when we are going to feel comfortable taking them down,” said Cooney.

Businesses were already struggling from the pandemic. Now Windsor Jewelry, which has called Indianapolis home for more than 100 years, says they don’t know how much more they can take.

“I have always been told that when you open a restaurant, that if you can make it. We have been here for six years, and I am scared that we won’t make it,” said Cooney.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department says they are working on figuring out how many businesses were damaged over the weekend.