GSO City Council Grapples With Response To Weekend Protests, Vandalism

GSO City Council Grapples With Response To Weekend Protests, Vandalism

6:43pm Jun 03, 2020
Greensboro Councilwoman Sharon Hightower addresses fellow council members during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. APRIL LAISSLE/WFDD

Mostly peaceful demonstrations in the city on Saturday and Sunday gave way to unrest after nightfall in response to the death of George Floyd. 

The Greensboro Police Department has tallied more than 60 vandalism incidents and over 70 thefts from Saturday through Monday, though officials say not all reports have been processed. For context, during the same weekend last year, about 20 vandalism incidents and more than 100 thefts were reported. 

At a meeting Tuesday, Greensboro City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann recommended creating a fund for business owners whose stores were damaged during the protest. 

The suggestion didn’t sit well with Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, who said the city’s priority should be resolving the issues of racial inequity that sparked the protest, not just addressing property damage. Hightower also took issue with Mayor Nancy Vaughan’s 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. 

“Now what you're saying is, ‘oh, my downtown got messed up. We’ve got to fix the downtown, it’s the heart and soul,’ but people are the heart and soul. Black Lives Matter. And this issue was regarding that,” she said.  

Vaughan disagreed, saying safety is her top concern.

“If people want to make an equivalency that the curfew was about property, I'm going to call B.S. on that,” Vaughan said. “It has always been about safety. But that doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to the destruction that was done to people's life savings.”

Vaughan also said the curfew will likely last through Monday, as another protest is planned in the city over the weekend. 

Ultimately, council directed City Manager David Parrish to come up with a plan for the approximately $250,000 fund to assist Greensboro property owners. 

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