KALAMAZOO, MI — Volunteers joined business owners at sunrise Tuesday morning with dust brooms in hand and plywood to pick up broken glass and board up windows after groups of protesters roved through downtown Kalamazoo.
Some of the storefronts that were hit by vandals Monday night include: Gazelle Sports, Lanas Boutique, Jimmy Johns, Rose Gold Coffee Company, the Kalamazoo Exchange, the Kalamazoo building, Final Gravity Brewery, Terrapin World Import, South Street Cigar & Spirits and Discover Kalamazoo.
The Kalamazoo County Courthouse was tagged with red spray paint.
Chris Lampen-Crowell, owner of Gazelle Sports at the Kalamazoo Mall was one of the business owners who came back to his store after the vandals had left the area early Tuesday morning.
“Last night was scary to hear the alarms were going off, our alarm company was calling us, we’re calling the police, the police were saying, ‘Don’t come downtown,” Lampen-Crowell said.
Lampen-Crowell said after Gazelle Sports’ alarm went off, police informed him not to come to his store until it was clear. Around 3:30 a.m., the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety contacted the business owner, giving him the all-clear to assess the damages.
“Already there were volunteers and residents that were coming here and helping clean up, board up our door, it was incredible community support, immediately,” Lampen-Crowell said.
Lampen-Crowell said the store will be closed today to clean and check inventory to account for what was taken.
“So much glass, so much destruction inside, people were going in and out multiple times, we’ve lost a lot of apparel,” Lampen-Crowell said. “That’s a lot of work, but the good news is, that’s work and it’s not a loss of life or anybody hurt.”
Braden Strayer, owner of Rose Gold Coffee Company, had one of the double pane windows of her business smashed.
“The only feelings I have about it being broken in the first place is it’s just to see that our community is in the distress that it is right now,” Strayer said. “I wish I could say I’m sad about the broken window, but I’m more sad about why it had to get to this in the first place.”
Strayer said Rose Gold will move on from last night. He said his hope going forward is that the events over the past several days will work to solve what Strayer described as the systemic issue behind public frustration.
“Windows can be replaced, this we can move on from, the loss of people we can’t,” Strayer said.
Some volunteers, wearing masks and gloves converged on the mall Monday morning to assist business owners in the clean up efforts.
“We just need to show love right now,” Kalamazoo resident Sarah Swiat said.
Swiat came downtown to help businesses hit by vandals in any way she could. She said she’s encouraged by the community’s response to the events on Monday night.
“Whether its just picking up trash or encouraging someone… I think we’re all being just pushed out of our comfort zones right now, whatever we can do to help and be hands on and be active,” Swait said.
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