Atlantic City Volunteers Clean Up Debris After Vandalism, Looting Spree

Posted on: June 2, 2020, 02:09h. 

Last updated on: June 2, 2020, 02:22h.

Atlantic City peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent Sunday, leaving a trail of destruction. It adds to the many challenges already faced by the New Jersey seaside community, where casinos remain shuttered.

atlantic city protests
Renee Taylor, a dealer at Borgata, stands in front of the Brooks Brothers outlet in Atlantic City. She was one of several volunteers who cleaned up after vandalism and looting this weekend. (Image: Philadelphia Inquirer)

By the time it was over, 17 people, only six of whom are from Atlantic City, were arrested after a looting and vandalism spree at city businesses, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

Initially, the protest was peaceful, with several local police officers taking part in the demonstration alongside the protesters. Organizers called for justice in the case of the Minneapolis man who had a police officer place a knee on his neck for over eight minutes. Floyd died, and the passing has led to numerous protests nationwide.

Like in many other communities, the orderly demonstration turned violent in Atlantic City. An unidentified number of people went to Atlantic Avenue after the four-hour protest. They broke storefront windows and stole merchandise from businesses.

For instance, someone threw a brick through the window at Soltz paint, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Soon, they made their way to the many retail outlets found in the city. The Polo Ralph Lauren outlet on Atlantic Avenue was looted, as were nearby businesses, the Inquirer said.

Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers, Walgreens, Vans, Nike, and Forever 21 were among the targeted businesses, the report adds. Similar crimes took place on Pacific Avenue.

As a result, many business owners boarded up windows. That includes Dock’s Oyster House, which was founded 123 years ago.

Police went into action. Arrests were made.

On Monday, Mayor Marty Small Sr. apologized to business owners and pledged the struggling city would rebound, the Inquirer said.

Over 100 state trooper-assisted local uniformed officers to patrol the streets. All this week, the city has a curfew that goes into effect at 7 p.m. daily.

“Inventories were wiped out,” Small said about the 20 retail businesses at the Tanger Outlets The Walk that were targeted by looters and vandals.

“I want to let the world know this is not going to stop us from thriving,” Small was additionally quoted by the Inquirer.

Community Comes Together

Helping to clean up the debris on Monday were members of the Atlantic City Professional Firefighters, Local 198.

“Coming together with our beautiful community to help clean up the damage … by out of town vandals who attempted to ruin the message our fine citizens peacefully expressed during the day,” the firefighters said in a Facebook post. “God Bless our town & the work of ACPD [Atlantic City Police Department]. Our brothers in blue did an outstanding job.”

Also among those cleaning up litter and broken glass inside and in front of stores on Monday were several casino workers, the Inquirer report said.

I’m just trying to help as much as I can,” Renee Taylor, a dealer at the Borgata, told the Inquirer. “I work here. I have family here.”

“It matters to me. We just got to keep praying and things will get better.”

Atlantic City casinos have been closed since March 16 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Each of the city’s casinos is losing millions of dollars a week in lost gaming revenue.

If the casinos do not reopen soon, worries are building that one or more of them could permanently shutter their venues.

Casinos May Reopen On Or Before June 4

Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to specify an exact reopening date. Many local residents would like the casinos reopened soon.

“It’s probably still too early to give you a very specific answer, but there’s a lot of work going into that right now,” Murphy recently told a local radio program. “But we are trying like heck to get toward, I hope, before the Fourth of July, or at least by the Fourth of July.”

Many furloughed or laid off casino workers have found little choice but to go to food distribution sites so their families do not go hungry.

The nine Atlantic City casinos employed 26,450 people as of March 1. Nearly all of them were furloughed or laid off as of May 4.