RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Richmond City Council has approved a $500,000 initiative to assist businesses, nonprofits and other commercial properties damaged during the recent protests against police brutality and racism.
The council green-lit the Businesses Recovery Grant Program Monday in a 7-2 vote, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The damage in the city was caused by some demonstrators who took to the streets following death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minnesota in May. Some broke windows and set fire to cars and buildings. Spray paint was used on structures along the protest routes.
“Though many protests have been peaceful, sporadic nights of severe property damage have hurt our small business community,” Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney said in a news release Monday. “These grants will help those establishments get back on their feet and send a message to the owners and employees of those businesses that they’re heard, they’re valued and we’re in this together.”
The money for the initiative came from repaid loans and interest, and unspent funds from a city program, said Leonard Sledge, the city’s director of economic development.
The grants will be given to approved applicants to cover repair costs. Business and nonprofits can start submitting applications for the grants, which are capped at $10,000, on Thursday.
A councilman who voted against the initiative said the city should instead focus on families.
“We have provided enough help to local businesses,” Councilman Michael Jones said on Twitter. “We must help the families that are struggling to pay rent and buy food.”