More than 60 Seattle businesses picking up the pieces after rioters wreak havoc on city

SEATTLE – More than 60 businesses are cleaning up the damage left behind by vandals and looters who ransacked their stores.

A largely peaceful protest was held Saturday in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The demonstration turned violent when a separate group of people interrupted with their own agenda, terrorizing the city of Seattle into the night. After the group’s destructive path through downtown, businesses began picking up the pieces Sunday.

Construction crews carefully removed shattered glass and boarded up several downtown businesses including a luxury clothing store called Buki.

Stacy Bennett, the store’s co-founder and co-owner, said their store was already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the break-in at her store and others added insult to injury.

“I’m a very positive person. I like to think there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, and there is. It’s hard to see right now,” said Bennett.

Bennett explained the word Buki means “defend and protect” in Japanese. The irony set in as she looked at her luxury clothing store in shambles.

“I feel angry, I feel betrayed, I feel violated. And honestly all the businesses around here that got ransacked, which is pretty much all of them, had nothing to do with anything that was going on yesterday,” said Bennett. “The fact that a few people yesterday wanted to hijack a peaceful protest and ransack it with their own agenda—that’s what’s disheartening.”

The peaceful protests began Saturday afternoon and a couple of hours later is when the destructive behavior began. Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a curfew in effort to calm the chaos.

“The curfew is at 5:00. At 8:30 I received a phone call saying our store windows had just been smashed and there was about 30 people in here ransacking the store,” said Bennett.

While Bennett was away, a woman from a neighboring business stepped in to stop the looters and vandals.

“She took all the clothes off the racks and stashed them in the back and then she shut off the lights, so it looked empty in here,” said Bennett.

Bennett is getting help putting the clothes back on displays and cleaning the mess. She said in the back of her mind she wonders if the curfew was enforced enough to avoid this.

“When there’s no law and order, there’s chaos. And chaos is exactly what happened here last night. And now all the business owners that had nothing to do with any of this are the ones that are going to pay the price,” said Bennett.

Bennett said she hopes police efforts and getting her store boarded up is enough to protect and defend Buki. She said a speaker and iPad were stolen from the store. She said once everything is cleaned up, she’s going to take a closer look at lost inventory.