In the week since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, protests speaking out against police brutality and for the equality of black Americans have swept through the United States — particularly, New York City.
While protests have remained largely peaceful, there have been flare-ups of rioting and looting across the city where SoHo and Greenwich Village have not been spared, but it could have been much worse, according to Andrés Pazmino, President of the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, which also serves Chelsea, Union Square, Flatiron, and NOHO.
Riots and widespread looting gripped the area beginning over the weekend, with looters targetting the area between Broadway to Sixth Avenue.
Notable businesses such as Bloomingdales, Chanel, Gucci, Apple, Coach, Supreme, Rolex, and Louis Vuitton were among the stores damaged on Monday night.
“On Bleeker Street particularly when you move from 7th avenue to 8th, about every store has been boarded up. And if you notice within that area, you notice them are high-end stores,” Pazmino said. “On the other side of Bleecker, when you go from 7th to Broadway, a few stores are boarded up but the type of businesses are different — not high-end, hospitality, mom-and-pop shops. We’ve seen some graffiti sporadically… a few damages here and there along 5th Avenue, but as far as I know, there hasn’t been any big, big damages.”
“SoHo has been largely boarded up,” he added. “Places along 2nd Avenue — restaurants — have had their windows smashed.”
As for a specific number in damages over the last few nights, Pazmino and the GVC Chamber of Commerce are still assessing the numbers.
The events provide added frustration for businesses looking to get back to normal after being affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
“As we are entering the next phase of the re-opening, now some people are holding off and they don’t know when this will stop,” Pazmino said. “They’re watching and seeing when they can re-open.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded by instituting an 8 p.m. curfew through Sunday to curtail such actions. Early returns suggest they are working as rioting and looting has dropped in the area.
While GVC begins sifting through the damage and putting together logistics on how to help businesses affected, Pazmino vows that help is on the way.
“That’s the mission of the chamber: Not just to help out businesses in crisis, but during normal times,” Pazmino said. “We’re working on a few things to help the community.”