FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) – With people across the city waiting for a grand jury in the case of Officer Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown, many businesses in Ferguson have taken the step of boarding up their windows. While some simply never made repairs after being looted during the August rioting, others say the move is simply a precaution they have to take.
Along West Florissant Avenue, the center of most of the violence in Ferguson after the Brown shooting, the majority of businesses now have plywood covering their windows.
One notable exception is the Ferguson Burger Bar. Owner Charles Davis says he’s trusting in God, and the people of his city, that his property won’t be damaged should people pour into the streets after a grand jury decision. He says he wants to show that faith in people to passers-by.
“I’ve had people come in and say, ‘Hey, thanks for not boarding up.’ So that alone has given them something. What it’s given them, I don’t know.”
But many others have made a different decision. Buildings up and down West Florissant are covered.
Thomas Bradley, from the barber shop next door to the Burger Bar, says it was a tough decision to make, but one he couldn’t help.
“I don’t want to seem like I’m tucking my tail between my legs just because we had to sit behind the boards, but I don’t like the fact we have to board up, because a lot of my customers ride past and they say, ‘Maybe they’re not open right now.’”
Back next door, Davis says he understands the pressure Bradley feels.
“I can say it’s understandable because a small business like us, we can’t take a hit like a larger company like a McDonald’s, Schnucks, Walmart,” he said. “We can’t take it. We can be out of business tomorrow on a devastating situation.”
“It’s a catch 22,” Bradley says, “because you want justice to be served and people to have their voice heard, but on the other hand I can’t call Ameren and say, ‘Hey justice is being served.’ They want their money too.”
He says he’s protecting a precarious position. Since the unrest began, he says he’s lost eighty percent of his business. He can’t afford another financial hit.
Now he and others wait for the grand jury’s ruling and whatever may follow, acknowledging that in places like coastal towns, when you see people boarding up windows, it usually means a storm is coming.