The owner of a Kenosha, Wisconsin, spice store has decided to “loot” his own store in the name of racial progress.
Kenosha has been plagued by riots and looting for several nights in a row following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake was shot by officers on Sunday as he resisted arrest and reached into his car, where a knife was later found.
Activists and Black Lives Matter supporters, including a local spice store owner, have been quick to claim that the shooting was racially motivated and completely unjustified, leading to the riots in the streets.
Bill Penzey, the owner of Penzeys Spices, sent out a note to his customers letting them know he supported the protests in Kenosha and the mission behind them.
When he received a message suggesting that if it were his business that was looted, he’d feel differently about the supposedly peaceful protests, Penzey disagreed.
“Someone wrote to say that you would be singing a different tune if it was your store being looted,” he wrote, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m by no means perfect but seriously no, I wouldn’t. Human life means everything; stuff, not so much.”
Penzey then compared the shooting of Blake to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“To me today just feels a lot like April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. That day we paid our people and kept things shut because that was not a day for commerce,” Penzy wrote.
The store owner then suggested he would “loot” his own store by giving away items for free.
“My mind went to that idea that we would feel differently if it was our store that was looted. When I asked around: ‘What if we looted our own store?’ What if we took a snapshot of our Kenosha store’s inventory tonight and simply gave away exactly that amount of inventory in the coming weeks?” he continued.
“Unlike the Minneapolis Uptown store that was in the center of things, our Kenosha location is out by the highway and does not have much chance of looting itself. What if we just gave our spices and seasonings to food pantries and gift boxes to organizations trying to raise money to fund change?”
Back in May, one of Penzey’s businesses suffered some broken windows as a result of rioting in response to the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after a controversial altercation with police during which an officer knelt on the neck of Floyd, who reportedly had lethal amounts of the drug fentanyl in his system, for nine minutes.
“If sweeping up some glass and replacing a couple windows is a piece of everybody realizing the costs of racism-fueled police violence towards minorities is no longer affordable, then so be it,” Penzey wrote in a letter at the time, according to UpWorthy.
If his business can spare the merchandise, it’s great that Penzey is choosing to donate it. But it’s absolutely nothing like the devastation that stores and businesses have faced amid the nationwide unrest, especially those in Kenosha.
According to the Kenosha News, as of Tuesday, 30 uptown businesses were destroyed or damaged.
Several businesses, apartments, and even the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Office were all set on fire, with some left completely destroyed.
Another street in Kenosha was really hard hit by looting and fires. There’s a ton of people out helping to clean up pic.twitter.com/hlepM481Oj
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) August 25, 2020
EARLIER: Burned out cars and businesses are damaged following last night’s unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. pic.twitter.com/7pGIFmHfgp
— The Hill (@thehill) August 26, 2020
Donating goods that supposedly would have been looted is not the same as arriving at your business after a night of riots to find it completely destroyed by violent strangers. Penzey’s suggestion that it is is an insult to the victims of these vicious attacks.
If Penzey sincerely wished to empathize with the true consequences of these riots and lootings, he would have set Penzeys Spices on fire and watched his life’s work burn to the ground.
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