The Indicator from Planet Money - Protest And A Black-Owned Business

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations brought people together to protest injustice. But alongside the protests came riots, at a great cost to some Black-owned businesses.

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NPR

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This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith about 7 years ago, Chris Montana opened his first business Distillery. He called it Du Nord, which is French for from North he opened it in his hometown of Minneapolis. Minnesota has four blocks away from my old high school.

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It's the Heart of the City because it's where there is. No, you know predominant racial minority in the areas kind of everyone's there that that vibrancy is hard to find getting the money together was a huge challenge, but Chris managed ran the whole place on a shoestring of four years making vodka whiskey gin different course, it was only much later that Chris realized he may have inadvertently started the first black owns distillery in the country realize I was the only one there and I spent the next couple years looking for what I assumed it had to be this group of black owned distilleries in there. I just didn't exist. But Chris Montana existed and Du Nord became does popular neighborhood spot with a tasting room where people could come and Order cocktails and relax.

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Most of his money came from that tasting room and he was able to build up his staff to about 12 people when coronavirus hit Chris worried that he would have to close money just wasn't coming in here to close is very profitable tasting room still Chris managed to pull through he felt like he might be able to make it and then in May George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek shopping and shopping spree sinks was just a few blocks away from Chris's Distillery Chris's when he saw the video. He just felt this overwhelming emotion picture we go again, you know, we're doing this again, I would prefer, you know to say that I got pissed off and punched a wall or something, but now you just get sad.

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Brings tears to your eyes Chris joint the black lives matter protest and we realize the marches were going right past is Distillery, he and his employees set up a table giving out water bottles and hand sanitizer to the protesters. We wanted to support the protest in any way that we could soon realize that people participating in the black lives matter marches. We're not the only people coming to his neighborhood and there were the protesters and then there were the Partiers that would eventually turn into the rioters and they were across the street in the Target parking lot and cutting random cars on fire drinking and doing whatever and so we knew that night that it was going to go south.

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After the break we see what happened to Chris's Distillery.

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When Chris Montana realize that rioting would probably be happening around us Distillery. He put signs up saying black owned business and then keep locked everything up when home to his family and hope for the best the next day. He came to see what it happened and as he walked through the neighborhood towards his Distillery, he started to get this terrible feeling and when he got to do Nord, he saw that one of the doors have been forced open and when he walked inside he just felt his heart sync multiple Fighters and they stole our inventory found cases of our booze all up and down the street or sprinkler system kicked on and put out the fires for the most part and it was a sprinkler system coming on and dowsing everything and putting about a foot of water in the entire Warehouse. That's what did most of the damage through his business putting out the fires that we're still going picking.

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Everything in I don't care who you are. If you have a small business and you put the kind of work into it that I have another owner is due and somebody comes and set it on fire. I mean that hurts and it feels like someone punched me in the face and it wasn't just his business as Chris walked around the neighborhood. He could hardly recognize it everything still on fire. I mean buildings all around her burning. You can't go anywhere in that area without smelling smoke or you know, this weird snow of Ash that comes down because you know, all these buildings are burning and Chris says he started to realize that actually he got off easy message from Adele just a few blocks away from us and his business has been burned to the ground. This guy is invested everything in the end of community and you can't talk to him about anything about him, you know eventually coming around to how is this helping Arkham?

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And it's been burned to the ground everything 100%, And and he was saying like it's just stuff and that probably was the most important thing that happened that day for me because he's right it was just stuff. But Chris had worked really hard for that stuff and the damage to his business was enormous hundreds of thousands of dollars rioting and property Destruction has happened in cities across the u.s. York to Chicago Los Angeles Miami to San Francisco Portland and business owners like Chris. Montana are left trying to pick up the pieces regroup and begin again all in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and they are up against them formidable odds. Bradley Hardy is an economist at American University. He has studied the economic impact of property damage and rioting on neighborhoods and some of the lasting damage it can do probably looked at neighborhoods that had seen

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Rioting and property damage back in 1968 in parts of Washington DC Los Angeles Detroit and Newark analyzed the trajectory of these neighborhoods from 1970. And then we looked you know every 10 years 1970 1980-1990 2000-2010 indicators in these neighborhoods is in a lot of cases. These were neighborhoods that were already struggling economically and the riots and property destruction magnified those issues. Even 20-30 years later Bradley says those neighborhoods never fully recovered.

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Neighborhoods where the riots occurred look worse than they had lower educational attainment lower incomes higher used to welfare programs property race. And that even though there were improvements those those neighborhoods essentially continue to lag behind other counterpart neighborhoods Distillery owner, Chris. Montana says, he and other local businesses in his neighborhood in Minneapolis are doing everything they can to beat those odds. They started a GoFundMe Campaign which weighs more than $300,000 they done a lot of community activities and events to help bring people together, but between the pandemic and the shutdowns and the current economy and all the damage Chris is a lot working against him at the same time. Chris says, he's been incredibly inspired and moved by the black lives matter movement and some of the real change that's been happening. No part of me that

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Congrats, honestly anything that happened. I mean, I wish that it hadn't turned violent, but but that's the price that needed to get paid and it probably is the only reason why any friends or anything has potential to change. Chris says that changes come at a price and for him. It's a very personal price possibly his business a price that a lot of people in Chris's situation might say is too high, but I understand if you don't grow up with this, you might not understand it, but you have to think about a world where you're told at a young age. Hey, by the way, because of the color of your skin that story of American greatness doesn't actually reach all the way to you if if all that we had to pay if the

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Is all we had to do?

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burn a few businesses

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I mean that that's absolutely worth it. That's your stuff.

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This episode of the indicator was produced by Camille Peterson fact-checked by Britney Cronin. The indicator is edited by Patty Hearst and is a production of NPR.
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