Peaceful protests have been marred by looting and vandalism in what has become a nationwide response to the murder of an unarmed Black man by a White police officer in Minneapolis.
Images and videos of rioters burning buildings and smashing windows have been captured across the country. Alongside other retailers, hair and beauty businesses are also feeling the brunt of it, including Dallas’ Guns & Roses Boutique.
Just days before a planned reopening, the Black-owned fashion and retail boutique was looted and destroyed. For the past seven years, it has been a fashion and entertainment beacon in Dallas, with celebrities like Erykah Badu and Angela Simmons shopping its selections.
“We were set to open tomorrow,” says owner Princess Pope, whose doors had been shuttered since March due to the COVID-19. “I had just gotten all-new inventory inside the store. And this happened.”
At first, she tells Hype Hair, she thought she was one of the lucky businesses that had been spared. After receiving a call from her sister to check her storefront, she saw that only the 7-Eleven next door had been smashed. She gave the employee her cell phone number in case anything went wrong. Twenty minutes later, her alarm went off.
“The whole store was vandalized,” she says. “They took everything. I felt so violated.”
With her storefront smashed in, she was forced to stand guard until friends and family showed up to help.
“I picked up the first clothing rack that I could find to stand strong in front of the store and shoo away looters.”
An image of Princess, wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with “This Is My Holy Shirt” in white letters while holding a long metal bar, has since gone viral.
“It’s crazy that I wore this shirt,” she says. “I just needed to rush out of the house.”
She shares she is heartbroken by the destruction which has taken the focus off why communities across the country are protesting: the killing of an unarmed Black man by a White police officer in Minneapolis.
“They are taking eyes away from what this is really about—and it’s police brutality. ”
And she is more interested in focusing on change and rebuilding her community. She has a mentorship program teaching entrepreneurs how to buy and negotiate in the retail industry and plans on continuing that as she rebuilds her business.
“My goal is to show even when you go through these trials and tribulations, what it is and what it’s like to overcome it,” she says. “So, I’m going to share this journey as we rebuild the store. I want people to follow me as I show them what it is to have and have not and then have again. ”
She is also grateful for all of the encouraging words and support from the community. “The love is just pouring back in,” she says. “Whether it’s a friendly smile or a helping hand.”
“For the other people affected by this, I just want them to stand strong, have faith, and keep persevering. Keep going and don’t let anything stop you,” she adds. “We are not stopping here.”