Community rallies around damaged downtown storefronts

Hundreds gather for Monday morning cleanup after downtown riot

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Lansing is resilient.

After protests against police brutality eventually turned to riots Sunday night, downtown Lansing had seen some far better days. Dozens of windows were smashed. Spray paint — with phrases like “Fuck 12” and “BLM” — was emblazoned across both brick and glass.

The damage is still being assessed, but officials expect it’ll be tens of thousands of dollars.

All told, more than a dozen local businesses saw some degree of vandalism by Monday morning. But nearly as soon as Mayor Andy Schor’s overnight curfew had been lifted at 5 a.m., the community was already forming a new sort of rally in the aftermath: Cleaning up the mess.

By 9 a.m. Monday, most local businesses that had windows shattered already had crews boarding up storefronts and assessing repairs. Hundreds scrubbed graffiti from walls, or chalked over them with colorful, flowery murals and a broad message for unity among local residents.

“We as a community have a long way to go when it comes to recovery and healing, but yesterday was one of the first steps,” said Cathleen Edgerly, director of Downtown Lansing Inc.

An early-morning grounds crew hosed off graffiti from the steps of the Michigan State Capitol. The MLive Media Group building has “Love Lansing” spray painted across a boarded window.

Windows at Strange Matter were covered with hopeful sentiments like “Justice,” “Hope,” and “Equality.” Boards covering broken glass at Linn & Owens Jewelers were painted over with bright lines and little red hearts. The local community was quick to bounce back.

Mary Dunker, a jeweler at Linn & Owens, said two local residents, John Ross and Fred Armstrong, came into the shop on Monday morning with more than $500 in clocks that they had rescued from the storefront after its windows were shattered Sunday.

“They just live over here and wanted to do a good thing,” Dunker added.

Some volunteers answered a call from Downtown Lansing Inc. to gather the next morning and pitch in. Others came on their own accord. A local musician swept glass in front of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra offices on Washington Square, just to show support for the organization.

Schor and other city officials, including City Council members Peter Spadafore and Patricia Spitzley, talked with volunteers — and pitched in on the clean-up themselves. Michael Doherty’s massive marijuana company Rehbel Industries also sponsored 200 lunches for volunteers on the scene.

“Residents working together to move Lansing forward is what our city is all about,” Schor said.

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