Downtown Madison business owners share different opinions on what the damage to stores is doing

MADISON, Wis. — If you take a walk around downtown Madison, you’ll hear businesses talk about how broken we’ve become.

One business owner who was cleaning up broken glass from Monday night said, “Look what happened on the Square. Probably 100 windows have been broken in the businesses.”

News 3 Now is not identifying the business owners in the story because many said they fear retaliation and are receiving death threats for sharing their opinion.

Another business owner said the broken windows are a small concern for him, and that the outrage should really be geared toward Black people dying at the hands of police.

“This country is getting torn apart right now but I believe standing and saying what you believe in is going to evoke change,” he said.

He said he doesn’t necessarily enjoy walking into work to see broken windows but, “I would welcome the sight of broken glass, broken bottles, vandalism as opposed to seeing another person being killed at the hands of the police.”

But not all business owners agree.

“This isn’t going to help,” said one downtown business owner. “We need to get to the table and do the sorts of things that need to be done.”

Another business owner said, “I think it was totally unrelated to the protests. It’s just straight vandalism and opportunists taking advantage of the situation. It takes away from the true message and what’s trying to change here which is a shame because the message is a good message. It’s the right message. This is the wrong way to go about it by vandalizing business. Want to make a change? Get out and vote. Make the Governor put voting places where people can reach them. Do things that are going to matter and make a change. Not causing destruction for the sake of trying to raise awareness for what? All it does it alienate people who could be united in a cause.”

Most of the business owners said what happened in Kenosha was wrong and the cause behind the protests is valid, but that they do not believe this is how it should be handled by destroying businesses downtown.

One business owner said he feels that the energy that some people are putting into being angry about broken glass should instead be channeled toward seeing “actual human beings being shot or killed on video online by police. That deserves a reaction.”

Despite the difference in opinions that business owners have, all are hoping that change is on the horizon.

“I feel hopeful there will be change, that all of this won’t be for nothing,” a business owner said. “Every day, every window that’s broken, every voice that’s heard screaming on the streets, that helps move that needle a little bit farther to change in breaking this systemic racism in our society. I’m hopeful for that.”