CLEVELAND (WJW) — What started as a peaceful demonstration in downtown Cleveland to protest the death of George Floyd turned violent on Saturday.
Those intent on turning the protest into a riot, systematically smashed out windows and looted stores, restaurants and bars. But when they got to Corbo’s Bakery on Euclid Avenue, they were met with resistance.
After protesters tried to force their way inside with bats and other weapons, owner Joe Corbo and his two sons armed themselves with guns and told the rioters that they would not allow them inside the bakery.
You can see the video below. **Warning, you may hear offensive language.**
“We don’t want any trouble, we don’t want you guys in here damaging our property, we’re just protecting our business and truthfully, I would say maybe 80% of them understood, they left us alone and kept walking, and then there was that 20% that just were accusing us of some things and crazy things that just weren’t true. We weren’t there to hurt anybody or cause a problem, we were just protecting our business,” said Co-owner Selena Corbo.
The protesters apparently took note of the weapons and the determination of the Corbo family to protect their bakery and decided to move on to other businesses, but not before breaking out a large window at Corbo’s.
“It’s just sickening, I can’t even put it into words, it’s just awful. I mean I can’t even believe it, I thought we were done with that kind of stuff you know years and years ago, I thought Cleveland moved forward. I love our town, I think we’ve all built it up as Clevelanders and it’s a great place to live and it just got shot down in a matter of a few hours, it was terrible,” she said.
All across downtown, owners of iconic Cleveland businesses, like Karl’s Inn of the Barristers on West 3rd Street, spent Sunday morning trying to salvage whatever they could after the riot.
The owner of Karl’s says the rioters smashed out every one of his windows, and then looted food and liquor from the restaurant, which has been a meeting place for downtown Clevelanders and the legal community for decades.
“It’s sickening, I’m sick to my stomach, I couldn’t even sleep, I couldn’t come down, I wanted to come down last night, they wouldn’t let me come down, they said ‘you can’t,’ you can’t come to your own business, that’s pretty sad,” said Karl Abounader. Abounader.
He says he and many other downtown business owners support the right of the protesters to voice their anger, but he believes the rioters had a different agenda.
“Terrible, I feel bad for the George Floyd family and offer my condolences, but we have nothing to do with this, they destroyed our place,” he said.