Widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd continued across the nation this weekend, entering the seventh day of demonstrations that have turned violent in several areas. Looting is now posing a substantial risk to local businesses in cities across the country, from Minneapolis, the epicenter of the unrest where Mr. Floyd was murdered by police last Monday, to Chicago, to New York, to Los Angeles.
Now, national franchises including Target, CVS, and Walmart have responded to the threat of riots and looting by shuttering stores, hoping to protect the safety of employees.
Target, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, said it has closed six stores there for an extended period of time after its Lake Street location, which is close to where Mr. Floyd was killed, experienced intense looting. Footage shows people fleeing the building with stolen merchandise as smoke filled the store. Target hopes to reopen the location, but has temporarily closed its doors, along with locations in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Oakland, CA. About 200 branches of the chain closed or had limited hours as protests continued this weekend.
Target promised that employees of closed locations would be paid for up to two weeks, including the premiums that that the company had offered staff for working amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has also promised opportunities for these employees to pick up hours at Target locations that remain open.
Meanwhile, CVS announced the tentative closure of stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia, though it did not officially comment on how many locations had been affected. A spokeswoman said pharmacies at closed stores will reroute customers to a nearby CVS to get prescriptions filled.
“We are continually monitoring protests as they occur in the communities we serve and will close stores, if needed, to help ensure the safety of employees and customers,” CVS said in a statement.
And for its part, Amazon said Sunday that it had amended its routes and limited deliveries to protect the safety of its drivers in some affected cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Minneapolis. A representative for the company said that Amazon would abide by all local curfews.
The ongoing civil unrest that has resulted from the death of Mr. Floyd only compounds months of pent-up frustration due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced millions to shelter-in-place and has led to historic unemployment.
The safety measures now being put into place to protect employees from rioting and looting come at a time when many businesses are just reopening after weeks of virus-related shutdowns.