South Carolina Business Owners Assess Damage After Protests

Some business owners in Charleston, South Carolina, swept up broken glass, boarded windows and took stock of ransacked shelves Sunday morning after protests erupted into violence in South Carolina.

Broken glass littered sidewalks outside storefronts in downtown Charleston, where restaurants and shops just recently reopened after being shut down because of the coronavirus. Hundreds turned out Saturday for what began as peaceful protests, but spiraled into vandalism and violence overnight.

Brian Lucier found a large stone used to smash the front windows of his shop, King’s Lead Cigar Lounge.

“All this just adds insult to injury,” Lucier told The Post and Courier. “We’ve been bleeding for three months now and then this happens.”

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said 10 people had been arrested in relation to the protests. He said there were no serious injuries.

However, diners and restaurant staff at the Stars Rooftop & Grill Room were rattled at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday when protesters started throwing chairs at the front window, said Heather Green, one of the restaurant’s operators. She said staff locked the front door and evacuated customers through a back entrance before protesters smashed their way inside and ransacked the manager’s office.

“It started to feel like everything was going to be OK, and that we were finally getting back to normal,” Greene said. “And now this happens.”

In the state capitol of Columbia, Police Chief Skip Holbrook said Sunday more than dozen arrests were made overnight and 15 police officers and sheriff’s deputies suffered injuries during volatile demonstrations.

The State newspaper reported that some protesters threw rocks at police and set fire to at least two police cars, ignoring pleas from fellow demonstrators to refrain from violence.