Just five out of the 125 Bronx stores that were looted on June 1 during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s death had been approved for city aid as of Monday.
After the riots, which saw looters target small Bronx businesses, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said emergency grants would be approved for those affected. The details of those grants are still being worked out.
“We understand the frustration that they’re feeling because their businesses have been hugely impacted,” Samatha Keitt, spokesperson for the city Department of Small Business Services, told The City. “Setting up a program in two weeks is a huge feat.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. pointed out that most of the affected businesses are owned by black or Hispanic residents.
“When you talk about systemic racism — these are minority owners. These are hardworking people who put everything into this,” Diaz Jr. said. “Of all places, they gambled on The Bronx. They helped us with the narrative of the comeback-kid story, and here we are weeks later and we don’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The borough president said looters systematically targeted certain stores for goods including electronics, lottery tickets, and sneakers. That same weekend, looters targeted luxury stores in upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan, such as Soho and midtown Fifth Avenue.
“Before the protests began, organizers of certain anarchists groups set out to raise bail money and people who would be responsible to be raising bail money, they set out to recruit medics and medical teams with gear to deploy in anticipation of violent interactions with police,” John Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said on May 31. Looters “developed a complex network of bicycle scouts to move ahead of demonstrators in different directions of where police were, and where police were not.”