Unrest after the recent murder of George Floyd has affected the nation at every single level, including local and national businesses. Just as our country’s businesses began to reopen after being closed down by Covid-19, an additional layer of difficulty has been added. All of the peaceful protests have created the need and space for fundamental conversations about human rights to take place. And some protests have turned into property damage, arson, and looting. But through the smoke and ashes rises the sheer power of business owners to use their voices to strengthen our community and our country.
Here are a few examples of businesses and organizations big and small that have had an impact:
During the protests in Minneapolis, looters took over a Target store, ransacked the goods inside, and the building was set ablaze. Rather than condemning these actions, Target CEO Brian Cornell had this to say: “We are a community in pain. That is not unique to the Twin Cities—it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts.” All employees from this and other closed stores in the area have been guaranteed full benefits and pay during this time. Truckloads of donations have also been arranged to ensure that anyone in the area in need of first aid, diapers, baby formula, meds and water have access to it. Read more here.
Baltimore Center Stage –
On North Calvert Street in Baltimore, MD, this theater has found a way to address both the global pandemic (which is effecting people of color at a much higher rate) as well as supporting the protesters. Sticking with the guidelines on social distancing, they set up services outside the lobby of the theater and opened their doors for public use. Ten people at a time were allowed inside to charge up their phones, use the restrooms, and take advantage of their free wifi. To learn more or donate to the arts, click here.
Gandhi Mahal –
A Bangladeshi restaurant in Minneapolis burned to the ground after protests turned to mayhem. When the owner Ruhel Islam was told about the tragedy, he said this: “Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served and those officers need to be put in jail.” So far, over $115,000 has been raised for their GoFundMe to rebuild.
Locally in Fredericksburg, VA:
FOODE + Mercantile –
900 Princess Anne Street – The owners of two popular restaurants in downtown have released this statement on their social media:
Natural Mystics –
1002 Prince Edward Street – Downtown’s modern alternative smoke shop has thrown their support behind the BLM movement in many ways. They have proudly displayed a sign in the front window of the shop and are handing out stickers of the same design by Metro Nova Creative’s owner, Dan Craddock. Their employees have personally donated cases of water for thirsty protesters in Market Square and near the shop. And on top of all of that, the owners have made a hefty monetary donation to Black Lives Matter.
Metro Nova Creative –
415 William Street Suite A – Owner Dan Craddock created a graphic that reads STOP killing black people I CAN’T BREATHE for social media cover photos, yard signs and stickers to hand out to the community. MNC is working with other local business owners (George Barnick, managing director of Rappahannock IT & Jaime Garza, owner of Ignite Cinemas) to talk to the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and local government about positive changes that need to be made around town to make a difference to our black community. Dan strongly believes that in order to create a more perfect community, we need to make sure we hear and represent all aspects of that community. Metro Nova Creative will also provide graphic design services to our local Black Lives Matter FXBG movement.
Black Lives Matter FXBG –
Dancers for BLM – Local dancers, yoga instructors, and dance studio owners came together all day long last Monday via Facebook LIVE to give free dance classes. There was something for everyone – contemporary jazz, hip hop, belly dance, tap, ballet, and even stretching and yoga. These instructors took time out of their day to do this and raised over $400 towards Black Lives Matter FXBG.
Interested in donating? Venmo: @TheRevolutionWillBeLive20