TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Businesses along Main Street in Taunton began boarding up their storefronts Wednesday, preparing for the possibility of violence stemming from a protest scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Destiny Perry, the organizer of Thursday’s protest, tells Eyewitness News she expects up to 300 people could attend, and says it will be as peaceful as it can be. The planned protest is in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota last week. Perry said she’s working with Mayor Shaunna O’Connell’s office and the Taunton Police Department to ensure safety during the protest.
But some Taunton business owners remain concerned. Hayden Pomeranz of Smoke Clean Restoration was out with his crew Wednesday boarding up businesses in the city. In recent days, he said his company has worked in Boston and Providence, helping with cleanup after both cities were recently the targets of planned violence.
“It’s just been a lot of emergency service. Long hours, boarding up broken windows, protecting businesses that haven’t been damaged yet,” Pomeranz said.
“We’re family-owned and operated, so to see a lot of these small businesses get damaged like this, it kind of hits home for us,” he continued.
The aftermath of the violence in Providence has also hit home for Mark McCauley. Early Tuesday morning, his shoe store on Washington Street was broken into, ransacked and destroyed.
“My sister called me and said my business was on fire. I got down there and it was like a combat zone,” McCauley recalled.
Due to the excessive damage to his Providence storefront, McCauley paid to have his Taunton shoe store boarded up Wednesday. He said his business, St. Pierre’s Shoes, has been in his family since 1965, so he’s not taking any chances.
“I just can’t afford to have the home base attacked like that,” he said. “That’s a total loss in Providence, and there’s a lot of stuff here [in Taunton], so I just can’t have it happen here.”
As a small business owner, McCauley said the past few days have been exhausting, frustrating and emotional.
“There was a problem, we understand it,” he said. “But violence is not going to solve it. It’s not going to solve this problem. You have to let the legal system do it. This is America. We’re all Americans.”
McCauley said it cost him $7,100 to board up his shop in Taunton, but he said if it saves his store, it was money well spent.
Eyewitness News has reached out to the Taunton Police Department for comment on Thursday’s planned protest and is still waiting to hear back.