Businesses work on getting back on their feet after damage from protesters

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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Just about anywhere you go in downtown Lincoln you'll likely see a few things: broken windows, boarded-up buildings and graffiti, but you'll also see a lot of volunteers helping the city recover from a weekend of chaos.

Eighteen-year-old Jack Nolley was watching the news with his brother Sunday night and saw the destruction and unrest unfold.

"I turned to him and said we're going to go down there tomorrow and help," said Nolley.

So they combed through mulch outside of buildings on Lincoln Mall, picking up shards of glass. And they're not alone.

Colton Steer, also from Lincoln, couldn't sit idly by.

"It was just a complete shock," Steer said.

He too, helping pick up the pieces of a protest turned violent.

But on the other side of every boarded-up window is even more damage.

Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce said watching people throw a cinder block through her office window on TV was heart wrenching.

"You go home at night and think everything will be the same, just like it was yesterday," Birdsall said. "But that's not the time we're living in."

Her computers are broken and covered in fire extinguisher dust.

The glass windows are now in hundreds of pieces on her floor.

The cinder block that was thrown through the window is still sitting on the carpet.

"I understand people must protest," Birdsall said. "They want to be heard, they need to be heard."

Another business impacted is Boombox Social which just celebrated its grand opening despite the coronavirus.

"We had windows broken out," Cody Schmick said. "We just opened three weeks ago. It's a little disheartening."

Both Schmick and Birdsall said it's what happens after the damage that matters most.

At Boombox, as the took in all the damage, volunteer after volunteer showed up to help clean up.

"We had friends from Boiler Brewing come, people from Kinkaider came down, our whole Boombox team," Schmick said. "We got it knocked out in a couple of hours and that day I just felt the love."

Boombox was able to open just a couple hours late.

At the Chamber of Commerce, Birdsall and some of her coworkers won't be able to work in their offices for a while, but she said the most important thing is nobody was hurt.

She said now, it's time for action.

"We must take note," Birdsall said. "We must emerge and help the city heal."

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