Oceanfront businesses start to recover after protests Sunday night turn violent

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — Business owners are picking up the pieces after Sunday night’s protest at the oceanfront got out of hand. Fires burned and windows shattered, leaving a mess to clean up.

They are recovering as well as can be after being vandalized last night. What happened here started off peaceful, but then took a turn. Luckily for these businesses, there were people out early today to help clean up.

“We need justice in an unjust system,” said Temeka Gillespie.

That was the message last night during a protest on Atlantic Ave.

“What went on here that started in Minneapolis that’s going on across the country is years and years of oppression years and years of hate and rage, people are upset and we want to be heard,” said Gillespie.

But many this morning feel that message is lost after finding window after window were damaged.

Monday, they began the clean up.

“We support people standing up for their rights their opinions, but at the same time we feel that you need to respect the people that are down here. All of them are trying to make a living just like everybody else,” said Heather Mathias.

Mathias brought her broom and some of her friends to help clean up businesses damaged in Sunday’s protest.

“A lot of the store owners are minorities as well. They can only do so much for their stores.”

Store owners like Engin Alpalmha who owns Bella Pizza.

“We’ve been closed almost two after the Coronavirus and the second week, this happens. We have no idea what’s going to be next,” said Engin.

He says they had served their last customer moments before rocks shattered his glass. Boards are up, but doesn’t see them coming down anytime soon.

“We didn’t put the glass yet because we don’t know if it’s gonna happen tonight again, or tomorrow, so we will see what’s going to happen,” he said.

Temeka came equipped with supplies and water bottles to help, but also to remind people why protesters were angry.

“There are a lot of people causing destruction. We don’t agree with that. It’s criminal behavior, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, rioting is the language of the unheard,” she said.

“Years and years of oppression, years and years of hate and rage, people are upset and we want to be heard,” she added.

Heather says what happened to the businesses was an injustice. Temeka says injustice is why they were protesting. She wonders if there will be peaceful common ground so they can move forward together

“We need justice in an unjust system,” said Temeka.

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