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Black-owned business in Tampa rebuilds after weekend looting

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The locally owned shoe store, Shoe Mountain, is rebuilding after looters broke in and robbed the store Saturday.

Instead of protesting the death of an unarmed black man while in police custody, a mob of 40-50 looters broke into Shoe Mountain, a locally black-owned business.

“They broke down our front gate that’s supposed to hold and stand up, but it’s not meant to hold 50 people coming at one time,” store owner, Kareef Johnston said.

Shoe Mountain has been in the Tampa Bay area since 2004. It’s a community staple that sells shoes, high-end sneakers, designer clothes, hats and more. When Johnston learned about the break-in, he was disappointed.

“I was just something hard to bare, you’re just speechless,’ Johnston said. “It’s something you see on TV, but seeing it in person is totally different.”

The looters stole hundreds of designer shoes, designer clothes, hats and more Saturday. Between damages and stolen merchandise, Shoe Mountain is out more than $100,000. After the looting, Johnston, his other business partners and family had to stand their ground to make sure no one else came back. This was such a disappointment as Johnston believes members of the community are distracting people from the real cause – George Floyd’s death, and instead, attacking a business that employs supports and gives back to the minority community.

“We really have to do better of supporting each other and really understanding what it means to protest,” Johnston said. “I don’t even want to relate what happened to protesting because I feel like people take these moments to come up with their own mission on what they want to do and attach it to the protest when it’s two separate things I believe.”

Despite the now bare walls inside the store and the loss of inventory, Johnston is remaining positive.

“Allowing this one moment to break us, it’s not,” he said. It’s much bigger than that. God has a plan for everybody. Despite what happened, it will only make us stronger.”

Shoe Mountain has new security measures in place, including an overnight armed security guard. It also placed ‘Black Owned Business’ signs in the windows, hoping that will deter looters from coming back.

Shoe Mountain has also filed a police report. If anyone has any information about the break-in, please call the Tampa Police Department.

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