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Wisconsin Spotlight | Nov. 3, 2020

Plywood is unfortunately in fashion this Election Day. 

As in businesses from Los Angeles to New York boarding up in preparation for riots and chaos in the streets. 

“In preparation of potential unrest in Chicago leading up to and following Tuesday’s general election, Macy’s State Street has boarded up windows at the iconic location,” NBC5 Chicago reported. 

“It is very sad to see New York City in this kind of condition, with all these beautiful stores boarded up or closed down. It’s very upsetting!” SoHo shopper Tina Sayah, told ABC7. 

Two months after radical Black Lives Matter rioters ravaged parts of Kenosha, businesses in the city’s Uptown District remain boarded up — at least the ones still standing. 

“We’re in this holding pattern, waiting for whatever is supposed to come next,” said Pat Oertle, who has owned Computer Adventure Inc. with her husband Eric for 30 years. The computer retail and repair shop was looted and badly damaged during the August riots that followed the officer-involved shooting of a black man during a domestic incident. 

Computer Adventure is one of the few businesses standing on a burned-out block. Oertle says she’s been waiting for the other shoe to drop since the three days of destruction that swept through the Lake Michigan city not far from the Illinois border. 

“Unless they hang this poor cop in the town square, they’ll come back,” she said of members of the radical movement demanding the officer who fired the shots that wounded Jacob Blake be charged with homicide. 

Kenosha on Monday night played host to President Donald Trump for the second time since the riots. Trump made his re-election campaign’s closing argument in a city that embodied the lawlessness and disorder of the anti-police movement. 

“We brought law and order to Kenosha,” Trump told a huge crowd. While Gov. Tony Evers hesitated in sending an adequate number of Wisconsin National Guard members to restore order, the Trump administration committed federal agents to assist law enforcement in securing the riot-rattled city. 

Kevin Ervin, co-owner of Franks Diner near Kenosha’s downtown, saw the nearly century-old business busted up during the riots. He supports Black Lives Matter, but not the destruction. 

Ervin said he’s not too concerned about a repeat performance. 

“I have faith in the people,” the business owner said, noting it’s mostly COVID-19 and the government restrictions keeping Kenosha’s central retail district down. 

Lou Molitor, executive director of the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce, said the city is recovering, thanks mostly to the resolve of its citizens. 

“We still have a ways to go, but we are taking care of each other and I think we are rebounding together,” he said. 

GoFundme pages set up in the aftermath of the destruction are helping businesses rebuild, and Molitor said state and federal assistance has helped. 

But an anxiety sticks to Kenosha like a shadow, business owners tell Empower Wisconsin. It’s hard not to feel vulnerable when your city has experienced what Kenosha has.  

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