WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A peaceful protest is exactly what city officials and downtown businesses hoped for but even with a peaceful protest, Wichita Falls officials and businesses planned for the worst.
Local businesses and officials say Wichita Falls has had events like this in the past and they have been without harm but it is still important to have a plan if the protest goes south.
With protests occurring across the country in reaction to the death of George Floyd, many of these protests in larger cities ended with businesses being burned and looted. However, organizers of the protest in Wichita Falls have collaborated with Wichita Falls police to make sure this protest doesn’t end that way.
“We’re planning to ensure that all our citizens that attend this are safe, that it goes off peacefully. Hopefully, there’s no outside influences that try to agitate or anything,” Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego said.
“I hope it stays peaceful,” Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said. “Wichita Falls: we’re a pretty peaceful city. You just don’t know. I mean we’re gonna be prepared no matter. 99% of the people that are marching, it’s their right to march and I think they have a good reason to march. But sometimes it just takes that 1% of somebody to do something dumb or stupid to start smashing windows or whatever. But people are angry and they have a right to be angry.”
B Cocoa Artisan Chocolate is handing out popsicles to protesters as they march, but even owner Brooke Willis is concerned for her business during the protest.
“Realistically, I did have to prepare for that and just at least take some valuables out and things that if it did go south, we’re slightly prepared. But if that happens, we can rebuild,” Willis said.
“The organizers actually wanted PD to have a presence there. So they will be there just in case something were to happen. They will also be on downtown all night just making sure that our business owners feel safe and protected and that they don’t have concerns,” Downtown Wichita Falls Development Jana Schmader said.
With police presence throughout downtown, city officials and business owners are hopeful that the protest can be heard while also preserving businesses and buildings within the city.
Willis plans to continue to support protesters in future marches and thinks other local businesses will do the same.