Small, Peaceful Protest In Superior As Businesses Board Up For Potential Unrest
A rumored protest taking over the Blatnik Bridge didn't happen.
SUPERIOR, Wis.- At the corner of Belknap and Hammond in Superior Wednesday, a dozen or so young people peacefully held signs against the death of George Floyd and police brutality, cheered on by drivers honking their horns in support–amid rumors of protests and unrest in the city swirling for a few days.
There was even talk of a protest overtaking the Blatnik Bridge. It never happened, but that didn’t stop the owner of Ignite Dispensary near the bridge from boarding up his doors and windows.
“This was a very sad situation, very heartbreaking, things do need to change in this world,” Timothy Frey said of the death of Floyd in the hands of Minneapolis Police, as protests across the nation have turned violent with fires and looting of small businesses.
“But the damage to these businesses needs to stop,” Frey said.
The plywood covering the doors and windows of the Hemp and CBD dispensary, Frey said, is him preparing for the worst. This, after a time when the worst was thought to be COVID-19.
“We’re just finally starting to crawl back out we just went back to normal hours, I just finally got all my staff back in full force, extended our hours to summer hours and now this kind of happens,” said the owner.
The vast parking lot of Walmart on Tower Avenue was also bare Tuesday evening as they closed during the normally busy hours, barricading parking lot entrances.
Goin’ Postal, along with Super One and Keyport Liquor and Lounge off Belknap have also boarded up. “Just a safety reason,” Goin’ Postal owner Andrew Perfetti said. “We understand the protests but we want to make sure we protect our property as well.”
Perfetti said he’s not taking any chances, even with just rumors of demonstrations.
“Most of the things on social media and you don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s true,” he said, “but it’s best to take precautions I think.”
While it may seem like being overprepared, Superior Fire Department is also getting all hands on deck.
“We’ll be calling in additional staffing we’re changing our response model a little bit to better work with some of the security concerns that may pop up,” said Battalion Chief Howard Huber.
Superior emergency response has also received some help from across the bridge.
Huber said Duluth first responders have shared how they handled Saturday’s unprecedented protest and nighttime unrest.
“They were able to share with us some of the challenges they encountered,” he said, “they gave us some indicators of what to look for and how best to respond to those things.”
If things do escalate, the Battalion Chief said the shape of the city helps level the playing field. “The geography of the city is somewhat helpful that being one triangle surrounded by water does, it is helpful.”
As of now, there are talks of a protest Thursday at the Government Center building. Duluth NAACP President Stephan Witherspoon tells us he will be there, and expects a large turnout.
Above all, Huber said Superior needs not panic, though people also shouldn’t get a false sense of security.
“I think we’ve learned from communities like Fargo this can happen anywhere,” said Huber. “It can come to any community so everyone needs to be prepared.”
And businesses owners like Frey at Ignite, hope things remain peaceful so they can finally catch a break.
“I would just like to actually be able to work and run my business normally,” he said.