Three days after two masked men smashed through windows to steal liquor from Old Port Spirits and Cigars, owner Jacques deVillier is still surprised that a peaceful anti-racism protest was marred by burglaries and vandalism.

“That wasn’t Portland and I’m glad nothing else has happened,” he said. “This is a good cause and what they’re doing is being damaged by kids who are looting.”

The protest Monday drew an estimated 1,000 people and started peacefully but became violent and destructive in the early morning hours. Police in riot gear arrested 23 people, all but one for failing to disperse. The protest was one of five that have taken place in Portland since Friday as other, sometimes more violent demonstrations have been held across the country following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Protests in Portland have mostly been peaceful, although an additional 10 people were arrested Tuesday for failure to disperse after that protest ended.

Since then, city officials have communicated directly with organizers, who have called for peaceful demonstrations and condemned the violence and property damage.

Police say four businesses were burglarized Monday night, while five others had broken windows or other damage. Officers noted two dozen instances of graffiti in the Old Port and along Congress Street.

Lt. Robert Martin said police continue to investigate those incidents. No one has been charged and no information is available about the extent of damage or items stolen from businesses, he said.

Security video shows two young, white men wearing masks smash the windows in the front door of Old Port Spirits, causing thousands of dollars in damage, deVillier said. Then they stole four bottles of Hennessy and some beer, worth about $100. DeVillier gave video footage of the burglary to police, whom he believes arrived at the store within a minute of the break-in.

Jacques deVIllier, right, and Kevin Casey pose for a photo outside Old Port Spirits and Cigars on Commercial Street in Portland on Thursday. The windows of the store were broken by looters Monday night who stole some beer and liquor from the store. DeVillier is the owner of the store and Casey is the manager. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“It’s going against everything these protesters are rightfully upset about,” deVillier said. “Some of these kids are just out here to cause violence. I support the right to protest, I really do, but this isn’t helping the situation.”

Hansel Garcia, who owns Cumberland Ave Shop on Cumberland Avenue and Little Havana Plaza on Congress Street, said both stores were broken into Monday night. High-end clothing, sneakers and unique collectibles that cannot be replaced were stolen and large windows were smashed, he said.

Surveillance video posted on the Facebook page for Little Havana Plaza shows the glass front door being kicked in and nine people rushing into the store to grab items from shelves and coolers, he said. Most of them appeared to be wearing face masks.

Garcia said that as a minority he supports the movement, but he is upset that small businesses have become victims. He doesn’t believe police will catch the people who broke into his stores and has decided to have someone stay after hours to guard the stores, just in case.

“I’m worried about looting,” he said. “The police aren’t doing anything for the businesses.”

Windows at Urban Outfitters on Middle Street in Portland are boarded up after being broken Monday night by looters. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Urban Outfitters on Middle Street was also burglarized, but police have not released additional details about that incident. The store has not reopened for business since it was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. An email to Urban Outfitters’ corporate public relations office was not answered Thursday.

The Portland Public Library was among the buildings vandalized Monday night. A derogatory term for police officers was written on the granite wall of the library and was removed within an hour of staff calling police Tuesday morning.

“For us, what’s important right now is the conversation that the community is having,” said Sarah Campbell, the library’s executive director. “We are very, very interested in the community having this conversation out loud and working for systemic change.”

Protesters also smashed two large windows at the Roux & Cyr International Fine Art Gallery. The gallery’s co-founder, Susan Roux, placed boards over the holes, which she and several of her students soon covered in a mural.

The Roux and Cyr Gallery on Free Street in Portland turned the four sheets of plywood covering its broken windows into a mural. “I wanted to turn something violent into something peaceful,” says gallery owner Susan Roux. “We’re Portland, for goodness sakes. We’re not about violence.” Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“We’re trying to turn a violent act into a message of peace,” said Roux. “I’m a very peaceful person, it’s a hard thing to have such an act done to my business.”

Roux expressed some concern that the boards might make the gallery, which has reopened, appear closed. She said the property managers estimated it would be several weeks before the windows could be replaced.

Roux left markers attached to the boards so that passersby could add their own messages.

“A lot of people on the peaceful side have things to say and we want to give them a canvas,” she said.

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