Damaged Businesses Vow Ferguson Will Rebound From Violence
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And let's turn now to Ferguson, Missouri. Demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri say holidays won't deter their protests and neither will cold, wet weather. But their numbers were significantly smaller last night, and businesses have started rebuilding, as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.
CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: A small group of protesters showed up at the Ferguson Police Department. National Guardsmen kept watch behind a railing. Some of the demonstrators tried to get as close as possible to shout at them. Despite the tension, the atmosphere was a 180-degree turn from the chaos of Monday night, when many demonstrators turned violent and vandals torched buildings and cars.
CAT DANIELS: Would you like something to eat? We got some chicken. We got potato salad.
CORLEY: Cat Daniels, who goes by the name Mama Cat, has set up a food station of sorts under a white canopy. She has tubs of food at her feet. Daniels says three generations of her family have served in the Navy fighting for America.
DANIELS: This country need to give us a little bit more than what they giving us. And our children shouldn't have to be afraid. I shouldn't have to be afraid when they walk out the door.
CORLEY: In their orange vests, a group of clergy, who attend the protest to help de-escalate any volatile situations, walked back and forth across the street. Rev. Renita Lamkin says even though a grand jury decided Police Officer Darren Wilson would not face charges for the death of Michael Brown, it doesn't mean the protests will end.
RENITA LAMKIN: Yeah, this is just round two. We're not going to let up.
CORLEY: Lamkin says while some protesters in Ferguson will keep up the tension on the street, others will take on issues of police brutality in government conference rooms.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FELIZ NAVIDAD")
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: Feliz Navidad.
CORLEY: Earlier in the day at the I Love Ferguson store, there is Christmas music playing and a steady stream of customers. The store was set up after Brown's shooting to help businesses damaged during protests.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: How much are the ornaments you guys have?
CORLEY: Brian Fletcher, the city's former mayor, is the head of the I Love Ferguson effort. He says last August, when protests erupted, about 30 buildings suffered damage. This time, he says, it could be as many as 80.
BRIAN FLETCHER: Whether it was simply a broken window or whether broken windows and looting or actual fire damage, we are literally going to have to rise from the ashes this time.
CORLEY: Susan Ankenbrand has lived in Ferguson for 40 years. She came into the store with her granddaughter to buy a T-shirt. Ankenbrand says she's just overwhelmed by all of the destruction.
SUSAN ANKENBRAND: Our reputation, the buildings, our hearts - it's just been devastating.
CORLEY: All up and down Ferguson's Main Street downtown, business owners have been cleaning up broken glass and boarding up windows. Natalie Dubose opened Natalie's Cakes & More less than six months ago.
(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)
NATALIE DUBOSE: The vanilla with the chocolate fudge, the strawberry shortcake...
CORLEY: Dubose says vandals tried to break her store windows three times before finally succeeding. She says they stole bakery products and equipment. And she worried about filling her Thanksgiving Day orders. She says several volunteers called in to say they would help, and she'll be able to get all of those orders out today.
DUBOSE: I'm just thankful. I've cried a lot, and I've prayed a lot. And I'm just grateful for just the love of the people. It's just - it's really been showing in so many kind of ways.
CORLEY: Protesters in the region meantime are hoping to shake up the establishment. They're calling for boycotts of stores on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Ferguson.
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