Local News

Fayetteville business owner deals with aftermath of protests

Posted June 1, 2020 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2020 7:41 p.m. EDT

— What started Saturday as a peaceful unity march on Skibo Road turned into an unruly event in downtown Fayetteville.

Rapper J. Cole and NBA point guard Dennis Smith Jr., both natives of Fayetteville, were in attendance as protesters congregated to demonstrate after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Later on that night, the Fayetteville Market House was set on fire.

A successful use of the building's sprinkler system quelled the fire and kept it from growing out of control.

The building was a target of demonstrators likely due to its history as a site of slave trade.

"I just don't think that this thing should stand at all," said Mary Lewis, a Fayetteville resident. "I've never believed that, once I found out what this thing was."

The building was also the site where North Carolina's delegation ratified the Constitution in 1789.

"Once the shots were fired, it cleared out," said Lee Carrillo, who owns several businesses surrounding the Fayetteville Market House.

"We were down here when the shots were fired," his wife, Dianne, added. "It was very cool and peaceful and everything, and then it just flipped very fast."

As business owners spent a second day Monday cleaning up the broken glass from windows and doors, organizers were assessing how things got out of hand.

"We had some individuals who just were angry and frustrated and just felt like talking was not the answer," said Swain Davis. "And as much as some of the brothers were trying to talk to them, they weren't hearing it."

Davis put some of the blame on outside agitators, as witnessed by several protesters on Hay Street.

"On Saturday they were walking back toward the Market House," Davis explained. "And a caucasian guy went over and picked up a brick and threw it at the police station. You know, how are you going to be throwing bricks at the police station and we aren't doing that? And I would say that has been a good bit of what's been going on."

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