Community helps clean-up Uptown after violent protests


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — People from across Pitt County made their way to Uptown Greenville Monday morning to join in the clean-up effort.

Sunday night, business owners say the only thing they could listen to police scanners and scroll through social media, hoping for the best.

“It was just really disheartening to hear all that stuff going on,” said Phillip Benz, a volunteer.

The violent protest on Sunday night followed a more peaceful demonstration earlier in the day, bringing awareness to the death of George Floyd.

Protesters threw anything they could into storefronts throughout Uptown.

Leaving the debris of anger and mayhem.

“There’s always going to be people who decide to destroy things,” said Jay Speight, owner of The Greenville Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. “Then, there’s always going to be people in the community that show up to fix it.”

Business owners came back this morning to a much different scene in the heart of Greenville.

“We’ve had 200 community members come to say I have a broom, I have a bucket, I have a tiny dustpan,” said Meredith Hawke, interim executive director for Uptown Greenville. “They’re bringing anything they can to come and help clean up this city they know and love.”

Volunteers from across Pitt County gave their time and labor.

“Greenville is a big city, but it’s a small enough community to where all of us business owners and local people know each other and I think that’s important,” said Benz.

One business owner understands the anger and heartbreak of the protests, but not the destruction.

“I agree there needs to change. I don’t think we need to destroy small businesses,” said Speight. “A business like mine where we haven’t made a profit since the quarantine started, we haven’t made a dime in three months.”

Community clean-up efforts wrapped up just before noon.

One group of volunteers walked all the way down 5th Street to Memorial Boulevard to pick up trash protestors might have left behind.

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