MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Downtown Minneapolis businesses have struggled throughout the past six months, from closures due to COVID-19, and the unrest following the death of George Floyd in May.

Wednesday night’s riot, triggered by the suicide of a murder suspect on Nicollet Mall, was just another unexpected setback. Dozens of businesses were broken into and looted, including Devil’s Advocate on the 1000 block of Nicollet Mall.

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Owner Erik Forsberg came to guard his restaurant when he saw looters on his security camera break a window and stream inside.

“I would speak for a lot of the business owners downtown that we’re battle-weary. I’m not stressed or even upset, I’m numb at this point,” Forsberg said.

One looter ransacked an office and smashed in a safe with a wrench. Once Forsberg arrived, he says his mere presence was enough to thwart the looters’ plans.

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“I had an employee here with me last night who showed up of his own accord, and I’ll be forever grateful that he was, because he and I were really able to save this restaurant,” Forsberg said.

Devil’s Advocate’s plan to open for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic will have to be postponed now. Forsberg worries about what he’ll even be opening back up to.

“We’ve seen the exodus from the city. People are staying in their homes and communities and staying tight, and they’re supporting the businesses outside of downtown,” Forsberg said.

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Hailey Cory is swimming against that current. She’s moving on Friday from Edina into an apartment downtown.

“I signed my lease the day before this all happened,” Cory said.

She nervously watched the rioting Wednesday night. She’s arriving in the city with a safety-oriented mindset.

“My mom made sure to tell me to have pepper spray on me at all times and be more aware of my surroundings,” Cory said. “I’m somebody who tends to walk around on their phone so I shouldn’t be doing that as often.”

For Forsberg and his fellow downtown business owners, the boards are up, the National Guard is in place, and he feels confident.

“I think anybody would be out of their minds to come down here and try to do anything,” Forsberg said.

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David Schuman