EUGENE, Ore.— Nearly one day after Saturday night’s riots, local business leaders are speaking out.
Combined, Wells Fargo on East Broadway, Whole Foods, and Elk Horn Brewery are faced with thousands of dollars worth of damage. All three locations saw some of their windows broken and walls covered in graffiti. Brittany Quick-Warner, the president of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, said vandalism like this is heartbreaking for businesses that are already battle a global pandemic.
“For a lot of our businesses, they're at a break point,” Quick-Warner said. “I don't know what else we can do to support them in this situation besides saying the violence has got to stop.”
Elk Horn Brewery has been a target of criticism after the owner formed “Eugene Wake Up.” This group formed in fall of 2019 after the restaurant was vandalized by a homeless woman. The objective was to try to push the Eugene City Council to address the homeless crisis. However, there has been some backlash from the community about the restaurant’s stance on the issue.
The chief engineer for the Wells Fargo building said damage could cost anywhere between $20,000 to $30,000. Whole Foods and Elk Horn Brewery are still assessing the financial impact of their damage. Quick-Warner said these riots take away from the message of police reform and racial equity peaceful protesters have been marching for the last two months.
“You think that targeting a physical structure, all you’re doing is affecting the bottom line or the financial impacts of a large cooperation,” Quick-Warner said. “But you're not. You're impacting local people who work here in these places and have a pride for our community.”
Black Unity, one of the groups in the metro area who has been peacefully protesting for change, said that they were not involved or associated with the riots Saturday night. Leaders from the group sent this statement to KEZI:
“Black Unity has been traveling around other cities and we have seen many different tactics of protesting. Black unity is a very diverse group of organizers because some of us have more radical tactics than others and we respect that. We understand that each person's life experience shapes the way they express their anger and passion within this movement. We want to make it clear that we wholeheartedly respect and understand a POC [Person of Color] decision to use more radical tactics; what we do not respect is individuals that claim to be white allies who use their hate for police to hijack the BLM movement as an excuse to go and break things with no purpose knowing POC [People of Color] will get blamed for this. It is not a white allies job to tell a POC how to express their anger. We welcome diverse tactics as long as it is for black lives.
We are about peaceful protest but we will not stand for the abuse of power put forth by the police, feds and government! BLACK LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN PROPERTY.”