KENOSHA, Wis. — Two years after Jacob Blake was shot by police, businesses said they are still trying to recover from the unrest that followed.
Tony Garcia is the owner of Isla Del Mar. As he reflected on these past two years, he said he’ll never forget the moment when protesters came to his restaurant’s door.
“We still got holes on the wall,” said Garcia.
Garcia recalled how they broke the windows at his restaurant.
He said he believes it would have been worse had he not been there.
“They stopped right here and they saw this building and they said, ‘No.’ So when they said, ‘No,’ they started running,” he said. “As soon as they crossed the street, they said, ‘This building.’ They were referring to the Family Dollar. They said ‘yes,’ so they ran there. They started breaking the windows. They ransacked the entire place.”
Garcia said his team was able to board up the windows on the restaurant until the unrest settled. But Garcia said that wasn’t the only damage done to his business.
“We were devastated because of what happened. We lost about 50 or 60% of the business. Slowly now, it’s coming back, but not 100% like it used to be,” said Garcia.
Looking to prevent similar violence in the future, Garcia joined other business owners, law enforcement, Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels and other Kenosha-area politicians in a roundtable discussion reviewing the events from two years ago.
He said he hopes more will be done to protect businesses if this happens again.
In the meantime, Garcia said the main goal is to rebuild.
“It took courage to put everything back together in the sense that we had to let that fear go because if we let that fear dominate our feelings, we would never be where we are today,” said Garcia.
As the unrest from two years ago gets further in the rearview mirror, Garcia said he plans to bring back Isla Del Mar to what it used to be, one day at a time.