PEORIA COUNTY, Ill (WMBD) — After two nights of crowds smashing storefronts and looting businesses, some local owners said enough is enough.
Shards of glass remaining on the ground and boarded windows showed the destruction many local businesses saw over the weekend. The violence forced a few owners to defend their property.
Jack said he and six others armed themselves and patrolled the Junction City area Monday evening, making sure all of the area’s businesses weren’t on rioters hit lists.
“We built our businesses with our bare hands and we’re not just going to let anyone take that away from us,” Jack said.
He said he and all of the area’s local business owners work hard to make a living and the destruction of their property is the destruction of their livelihood.
“You want to burn stuff, go to your neighborhood and burn your stuff,” Jack said.
Jack said Junction City is on private property and the owners have given him permission and thanked him for defending the area’s businesses.
Over in Bartonville, Dean Harris, owner of Dirty Dean’s Motorcycle Parts & Services, had the same goal but a different approach.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Harris said. “Even if I went home, I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to sleep so I decided I was just going to stay here and keep an eye on my business.”
Harris said he, with help from community members, barricaded the entrance to his building with trailers and stayed there overnight. He said he appreciated the help from the community and local law enforcement.
“It’s nice to know the community supports local businesses and things like that,” Harris said.
Both owners said they understand the anger across the nation, but they won’t let their businesses go up in flames.
“I saw the video and it was horrible and I completely understand the frustration and everyone being upset,” Harris said. “I think the message gets lost when businesses get burnt down and buildings get torn up.”
“Everyone has the right to protest,” Jack said. “I’ll protest with you, but for you to come and burn my business because you’re mad, this is not the way.”