Small businesses in Providence vandalized after crowds dispersed from mall


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A number of small businesses in Providence were hit by vandals after violent riots broke out downtown Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said a large group vandalizing the mall dispersed after a non-lethal amount of tear glass was deployed, but then the groups scattered into different pockets of the city to keep the destruction going.

One storefront window was shattered to the point where the name of the business was unclear.

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Layne Mayer lives on Westminster Street and said she started to hear the chaos outside before she could see it happening from her window.

“We just watched from our window in disbelief as people came running down the street and started smashing the windows, some just for the fun of smashing the windows,” Mayer recalled. “They would come out going, ‘I got free sneakers,’ or ‘I got a backpack.'”

Phase 2 of reopening Rhode Island’s economy began on Monday, meaning more businesses including the mall were able to open their doors for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Some stores had limited browsing and curbside pick-up available but were just starting to get back into normal retail operations.

“There was no cause here. There was no mission or meaning behind it other than just an opportunity to loot all of these great small businesses,” Mayer added. “They’re just about to reopen from COVID, and just starting up again, and now they have this other setback.”

The Providence Place mall will remain closed on Tuesday.

Below are photos of the damage across the city:

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