A Vietnamese restaurant that has served customers in Tampa, Florida for decades was heavily damaged by fire after protests on Saturday night.
Hundreds of people gathered in Tampa to protest the death of George Floyd and similar cases of police brutality against minorities.
Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis, was suffocated by a White police officer while pinned to the ground. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country over the weekend. While some of them were peacefully carried out, others turned violent later in the evening.
In Tampa, Mayor Jane Castor and Chief of Police Brian Dugan marched with protesters in the daytime. However, the protests escalated to looting and violence when night came.
A Mobil gas station was set on fire, as well as the Champs Sports store on Fowler Avenue, which was burned to the ground by morning, Tampa Bay Times reports.
Situated next to the Champs outlet is restaurant Saigon Bay, which also sustained significant damage from the fire. Beloved by the community, the local eatery is known as a great place to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine.
Bryan Huynh, a member of the family who built and previously owned Saigon Bay shared his sentiments regarding the incident on Instagram:
“As you may know Tampa got out of hand last night. My parents owned and built this restaurant from the ground up ever since I was born. We sold it a few years back to some wonderful owners that took the restaurant to another level. I’m incredibly heartbroken about the events that have occurred especially to something so near and dear to my family’s hearts, but please please everyone be empathetic towards one another.
In the video of George Floyd’s death, there was a man of Asian descent that was in the wrong and it reminded me how different it is for our race. Yes, we still deal with racism. However police brutality is something our race does not have to deal with. I’ve seen with my own eyes how my African American friends get treated differently than me even though I am a minority just like them.
Whenever I hear “All Lives Matter,” it’s total bulls***. At the end of the day, we all have to be kind towards one another. Love really does cure all. As for Saigon Bay, I am communicating with the owners to see how we can help as a community to help put back their business that they put their blood, sweat and tears into. #blacklivesmatter #bekind”
Meanwhile, Mayor Castor and Chief Dugan made statements via Facebook Live on Sunday morning, telling protesters to stay home.