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In a Minnesota story that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming, a man whose business was destroyed in protests has been given an outpouring of support.
As protests turned violent in Minneapolis this week over the death of George Floyd, small business owners in the community became the victims of senseless looting and arson. Vandalism and rioting that had no bearing on achieving justice for Floyd, a black man who died while under police custody, turned the city into a virtual war zone and destroyed the dreams of Korboi Balla, the owner of Scores Sports Bar.
“Burn it down,” they say from their multimillion dollar homes and cable news sets.
“Burn it down,” from their secured, gated communities.
Never once thinking of the destruction it causes to black small business owners pic.twitter.com/c5euidcD2x
— Rob Smith 🇺🇸 (@robsmithonline) May 29, 2020
Balla, a firefighter on the Brooklyn Center Fire Department and married father of four, was captured in an emotional video reacting to the damage done to his sports bar which was scheduled to open in the spring. The coronavirus pandemic and statewide lockdown orders temporarily postponed the grand opening of the business, but then in an instant, his dream was gone in a night of protests.
Balla was in the midst of a report on the damage done to his sports bar when looters came in trying to steal the safe.
“I worked so hard to get here. So hard,” the tearful business owner said.
Adding insult to injury, while working his shift as a firefighter the next morning, he received word that the building was burned to the ground.
“I was doing my shift at the fire station this morning when I got the call that the entire building had been burnt down last night. My heart was heavy, and I had to leave work because the emotional toll was too substantial,” Balla wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help.
This black business owner was in tears at the destruction of his sports bar as a result of the #MinneapolisRiot
The clip broke my heart.
Maybe we can help this man out. I’ve got $50 on it. What about you?https://t.co/7LRHcx6ADB
— Rob Smith 🇺🇸 (@robsmithonline) May 29, 2020
While he may have suffered a substantial setback in the devastation, Balla is now seeing the overwhelming support of more than 5,000 people who have contributed to that fund, exceeding his goal with donations that have reached over $133,000 at the time of this writing.
“I have been an entrepreneur in the State of Minnesota for many years, and my community really showed their love in the rawest form,” he wrote, noting that “Scores Sports Bar was my DREAM.”
“To find out that the countless hours, hard work, late nights away from my kids, and family had all been for nothing was soul shattering. It is not the material things, more so the time that cannot be reclaimed,” Balla explained.
Before the fire which finalized the destruction of the bar, Balla had recounted how overwhelmed he was by members of his community reaching out to help clean up the space.
“I went to Scores yesterday and all I could do was cry,” he wrote.
“As a firefighter and public servant, I am used to saving lives and being strong, but this broke me. The glass was broken, it was looted, and vandalized,” he continued. “While filming for CNN, people came in trying to steal the safe and I wondered what next? My community, that’s what. Strangers showed up with brooms, cleaning supplies, trash bags, and food. They helped me and my family clean up in 20minutes what would have took days.”
Balla updated the GoFundMe page with photos of the burned down site that used to be his sports bar.
“I am devastated but I know something positive will come out of all this,” he wrote. “Stay blessed everyone!”
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