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Philadelphia business owner suffers $18K in damages from looting

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(NewsNation) — A local restaurant owner in West Philadelphia is focused on rebuilding after he suffered $18,000 in damages during a string of looting in the city last week.

Brendan Hartranft’s establishment, Clarkville, was hit twice in two days, leaving 12 shattered windows and several spray-painted doors.

“I understand that it’s kind of a cash grab or protest for everybody, but that’s not something a small business can sustain,” Hartranft said Monday on “Elizabeth Vargas Reports.” “You’re talking about more than a week’s payroll, you’re talking about close to two months rent — I could factor in a bunch of different things this money could be going toward, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.”

Philadelphia police are making a major push to arrest the looters who ransacked multiple stores, releasing surveillance footage and asking the public’s help to identify suspects.

So far, 72 arrests have been made, and all but five of them are adults, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. The chaos began last Tuesday around 7:30 p.m. after several 911 calls said a group of as many as 100 people were moving through Philadelphia’s Center City.

Hartranft discovered damage to his restaurant Wednesday morning after the first night of looting and then again on Friday morning. It happened while his business was closed.

“I would have much more respect if they did it in broad daylight as opposed to the cover of night. At least it would show some conviction,” he said.

The flash mob-style ransacking Tuesday night came after a peaceful protest over a judge’s decision to dismiss murder and other charges against a Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed a driver, Eddie Irizarry, through a rolled-up window.

Those doing the ransacking were not affiliated with the protest, Interim Police Commissioner John Stanford said at a news conference last week, calling the group “a bunch of criminal opportunists.”

“People are using my restaurant almost as like a palette to voice their frustration, and I have the same exact frustration. So, not only is it frustrating, but it’s also pretty ironic,” Hartranft said of the vandalism.

Jabari Jones, president of the Corridor Collaborative and a candidate for City Council, says many businesses haven’t yet fully recovered from a spate of looting in 2020 during social justice protests, and this week’s damage “opened up a lot of fresh wounds” in West Philadelphia.

The difference this time, he said, is there appears to be a much more robust police response.

“They acted very quickly; they made sure that there was a police presence at all of our major shopping plazas and along many of the commercial corridors that got hit during the previous day,” Jones said. “It’s been very reassuring to the businesses in our district when they hear that the police is very rigorously going after the individuals that were involved.”

NewsNation digital producer Urja Sinha and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.

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