Chicago business owners reeling from 2nd round of riots: ‘I feel like we are under attack and under siege.’

The looting in Chicago last weekend was the second time in three months that many stores in the city were hit. Given that these businesses were already dealing with the shut down and the coronavirus, some are now saying they won’t be back and others are saying they feel like they are under siege:

Jewelry and gift shop Crosell & Co. had reopened less than a week ago, then looters struck the store two blocks west of Michigan Avenue again Monday morning.

City officials “have to get ahold of the city again,” said owner Dianne Crosell, standing in front of her shop’s smashed double-paned glass door Monday morning. “I feel like we are under attack and under siege.”…

“If this keeps happening, why is anyone going to stay?” she said. “They’re ruining the city of Chicago.”

Neil Mehra owns a cigar shop off Michigan Avenue. He was hit for the second time this week.

By the time Mehra rushed to his store Monday, nearly everything of value was gone, with rows of shelves stripped clean of high-end cigars worth up to $800 a box. Stepping through the rubble, he realized the thieves even made off with his safe and the $5,000 in it. He estimated his losses this time at more than $75,000.

“I almost cried,” said Mehra, sitting in a chair at his store under a framed photo of Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan, a cigar aficionado. “This is my life. I really don’t know if we’re going to survive this.”…

In May, attackers threw a flower pot through Mehra’s $10,000-front window, hauling over $30,000 in merchandise through the hole. Looters Monday burst through the door, leaving the window intact…

“It is empty at night, with not enough people with eyes on the street,” he said. “People up to no good feel they have free rein.”

That’s pretty close to what Mayor Lightfoot and Police Superintendent Brown said this week, i.e. people were looting because they believed there wouldn’t be consequences even if they were arrested. But State’s Attorney Kim Foxx denies she’s going easy on crime even though the numbers examined by the Chicago Tribune says she drops 30% of all felony cases brought to her office.

Walid Mouhammad owns a convenience store that was also hit for the second time this week:

“This is the second time,” Mouhammad said. “I’ve been open for just 40 days, so who will be responsible for this?”

After spending over $300,000 to re-open his store following May’s looting spree, Mouhammad says Monday’s damage is worse.

Once the door was pried open, security cameras show a flood of looters coming in and ransacking the place…

Police were present at the corner of Madison and Keeler Monday, but it’s a little too late for Mohammed, who has been on the corner for decades. Now, he says he can’t afford to reopen…

Ken Londe owns a fashion boutique in the city that was hit twice.

He said there was well over $25,000 worth of lost merchandise and said the looters took his cash drawer.

“This is my livelihood,” Londe said. “All this merchandise they took is on credit cards [that] still needs to be paid. And now we’re going to have to order more. And we have limits on our credit cards, so not good.”…

“These are not protesters, and if they are protesters than they’re frauds because these are not peaceful in any way, shape or form,” Londe said.

There are more stories like this. I’m really just scratching the surface. Some of these businesses have insurance that will cover the damage but after you’ve been hit twice in three months some of these owners are wondering if it’s worth the effort. The scale of the damage done so far in Chicago is enormous:

The civil unrest that erupted earlier this summer is estimated to have caused $500 million to $900 million in insured losses, according to the association, and is on track to be one of the costliest events of civil disorder in years. By comparison, the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles caused $775 million in insured losses, or $1.4 billion in today’s dollars.

As Ed noted earlier today, BLM Chicago organizer are now openly saying that looting is reparations. So what’s to stop this from happening again next week or next month if people have decided this is a public good? The police can’t stop it and they’re under attack too. How much more can business owners take before they give up?

“There’s a limit to how many times retailers are willing to be kicked. … It will be difficult after retailers who have invested millions in reopening to have to do it again. There has to be a lot of confidence that they can be protected and, so far, that confidence is lacking,” said Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

He’s right and based on the reports above it sounds like we’re already pretty close to that limit.

Update: This 81-year-old business owner (I linked a story about him above) came down to his convenience store after learning it had been looted. He arrived outside and called the police. While he was standing there, four looters on bikes rode up and tried to go inside. He told them to stop and they threatened to kill him. The reporter actually breaks down in tears hearing this story. Why would anyone want to try to run a business under these conditions?

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