Christine Baik received a security alert on her phone at 7:12 p.m. on Tuesday: someone had broken into her parent’s Philadelphia beauty supply store.
She called her parents, who were on their way home. They immediately turned around.
“They went back to the store and found out that it got looted,” Baik said.
For the past two nights, rioters in the City of Brotherly Love have looted businesses, torched police cars, and thrown bricks and rocks at police officers. Dozens of officers have been hurt.
The unrest was sparked by the Monday afternoon police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old mentally ill black man who refused orders to drop a knife as he approached officers.
Wallace’s father, Walter Wallace Sr., said the looters were “showing disrespect,” rather than helping his family, according to media reports.
After Monday’s unrest, large gatherings of protesters assembled again Tuesday night in the city’s Port Richmond section, where looters broke into stores, including a Walmart that was flooded when people set off the sprinklers.
Baik’s parents own the Cambridge Beauty Supply store in the nearby Aramingo Village plaza. Their store is one of several small businesses in and around the plaza, including a pharmacy and a cleaner, that rioters looted and damaged. The pharmacy was looted twice.
Soon after arriving in the United States from South Korea, Baik’s mom started working at the store, which caters to a primarily black and Latino population, Baik said. Her mom purchased the store from the original owner in 2007. It is her parents’ primary source of income, she said, though her father also is a Presbyterian pastor.
Baik said she joined her parents Tuesday night at the store in an urban section of Northeast Philadelphia, and the scene was scary. People were firing guns in the area, she said.
She said the looters smashed in a shutter and a glass door to access her family’s business, which specializes in selling hair products, wigs, brushes, makeup and jewelry.
“The glass was broken into. Glass shattered all over the floor,” she said.
Baik said the looters broke into their jewelry cases and stole wigs. Earrings were scattered around the floor. But the damage was mostly contained to the front and the center aisle.
Her parents were back to work on Wednesday, Baik said.
She thinks it may have been worse had her parents not developed good relationships with their customers and with the community around the store.
“Our store has a good reputation,” she said. “Our customers know my mom’s name.”
Jimmy McCorry, 30, the co-owner of the Santucci’s Square Pizza parlor in the Aramingo Village plaza, said he was leaving work around 7 p.m. Tuesday when he was swarmed by protesters.
“There were hundreds of rioters,” he said. “They were breaking into all the strip (mall) stores next to us.”
McCorry said his shop wasn’t damaged. The looters appeared to be more interested in buildings that had been boarded up. A security guard who works in the area told him that see that as a sign that there are valuables inside.
McCorry said he wasn’t afraid of the rioters, but was concerned about his employees’ safety.
“I made sure they all left first, and I left last,” he said, adding that the rioters “said some words, but they didn’t come after me.”
McCorry said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was too slow reacting to the riots and activating the National Guard after the first night of unrest.
“He should have been ready,” McCorry said. “If you’re the mayor of the city, you have to be the mayor. You’ve got to take care of things.”
This area of Philadelphia also was the scene of looting after George Floyd’s death in May.
McCorry said he worries the riots and looting could cause permanent damage to the area. Businesses could leave, insurance rates could rise if the unrest continues.
“These small businesses are getting hurt, especially with the covid on top of it,” he said. “I see places that are closed for good now.