BEFORE AND AFTER: Volunteers clean up downtown after destruction
Citizens help sweep glass, remove spray paint and raise funds for Madison businesses affected by Saturday night rioters
It didn’t take long for volunteers to spring into action after Saturday night’s vandalism, destruction and looting of downtown businesses. Saturday afternoon began with a peaceful demonstration of more than 2,000 people in protest of the death of George Floyd while in police custody, one of many instances that have sparked nationwide outrage regarding the racist standards black people face on a daily basis. But after the peaceful protest ended, a small group created chaos downtown by smashing windows, vandalizing buildings, looting stores and lighting a police squad car on fire.
The afternoon rioters looted or caused property damage to 75 businesses, according to police, including the Museum Store of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Ragstock, Goodman’s Jewelers and others. Many businesses owners took to social media or released statements following the riot. “Our property is replaceable. Black lives aren’t,” reflects the owner of State Street bar Hawks Bar & Grill, who notes that he isn’t promoting violence, but stands in solidarity with communities of color. MMoCA’s director of communications offered a statement in a similar vien. “As an arts organization, MMoCA values the importance of non-violent, self-expression, especially in the wake of injustice and oppression. The pain and suffering that led to the protests nationwide must not be overlooked or forgotten,” says Marni McEntee. “Things can be replaced, but lives cannot. We mourn the loss of innocent black lives and pledge to work within the community toward a more equitable and just future for all.”
But almost as soon as the chaos erupted, community members started forming plans for a clean-up and fundraising effort to help the affected businesses. The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, lead by President and CEO Michael Johnson, has raised more than $125,000 for the local businesses affected by the destruction. Johnson and Scott Resnick, executive director of StartingBlock, helped organize clean-up efforts on Sunday morning, which drew crowds of people ready to sweep up glass, remove spray paint and collect debris.
Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway and interim police chief Wahl held a news conference at 10 a.m. on Sunday to address plans for recovery. While the mayor expressed her disappointment regarding the destruction to local businesses, she sent a clear message: “Be more angry that the people who kill black people all too often walk free,” she said at the conference. “I’m hopeful because our community is committed to racial justice and equity. … Support the black leadership in Madison. … Help heal our community. Not superficially, but in a deep and real way that will be hard and will take years, but is the only way.”
BEFORE AND AFTER
Below are a few before and after photos from Sunday morning’s clean-up efforts. WARNING: Some of the below images include profane language. Viewer discretion is cautioned.