Minneapolis Man Who Painted 'Black Owned Business' on His Bar During Riots Says There is 'Sense of Hope' in City

A Minneapolis man who spray painted "Black Owned Business" on his bar amid the George Floyd protests has praised how the city has come together in the wake of the destruction.

Tony Zaccardi, owner of the Palmer's Bar in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of the city, gained national attention after he painted the words on his business in an attempt to ward off any suspecting looters that may arrive amid the disorder.

In an essay for Newsweek during the height of the riots, Zaccardi supported the demonstrations but said that "people who are opportunists and looting are ruining the protests."

Other businesses later followed suit with their own signs as they boarded up the windows to protect their stores, bars and restaurants.

Several days later, Zaccardi tells that the wooden boards remain on Palmer's Bar, which has stood for more than 110 years in the city, but tells Newsweek there is a sense that "the worst is over"' in terms of violence.

"Where I live right now, which is five minutes from my bar, you wouldn't know anything is going on," Zaccardi said.

"I feel like it's started to return back to normal and I think there is a sense of hope. Think we just got to keep on going forward."

Zaccardi also praised the community spirit that has resulted in the protest over the death of George Floyd from both protesters, local residents and business owners like himself.

"The protesting and the marching is a fully diverse crowd, native American, white, black, Hispanic. It's great to see each community and culture really coming together.

"There's been people keeping an eye on the community...night watch groups all over the neighborhood, mine included. There's a lot of people looking out for us and I'm really grateful for that."

People have also been coming up with ideas on how to recycle the plywood which they used to board up the buildings now the protests appear to be calming down, including if they can be used to provide some sort of shelter for the city's homeless.

The bar owner noted how people also have been coming out into the streets and volunteering to help clean up the mess from the previous night's demonstrations.

"By day people are out sweeping and donating brooms, garbage cans, garbage bags. We're a pretty proud city, and we're seeing the best of that during the worst of times."

Zaccardi said he was surprised by the level of attention he got for painting "Black Owned Business" outside his bar, which he said he decided to do "almost as an afterthought" as the rioting broke out.

Since then, Zaccardi has appeared on national television networks, and even got a surprise follow on Twitter from former president Barack Obama.

"Barack Obama did not message me back," he said. "I had a little bit of liquid courage and sent him a DM and he hasn't responded yet and I don't know why," he joked. "It's been pretty crazy times."

Zaccardi said he later realized that he is lucky not to be targeted in the riots following reports white nationalist groups infiltrated the protests in order to cause destruction.

"I thought 'Oh man, that sign is actually making me a giant target?' People asked me if I was going to paint over it, and I said 'hell no.' I put it up there and I'm sticking with it."

Zaccardi did decry the destruction of other businesses that did occur during the protest, such as the nearby Target store as well as family owned businesses.

"Protesting is a wonderful right that we have in this country, but the destruction of property is a bummer," he said.

"Think of who owns these businesses. For a lot of these immigrant families, this is their lives, their livelihoods, especially as all these businesses have been shuttered for months because of COVID.

"They're just getting ready to start reopening, and then boom."

Minneapolis, riots, black owned business, George Floyd
Palmer's Bar in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis is owned by Tony Zaccardi. He has had to spray paint "Black Owned Business" onto the boarded up bar during the recent riots in Minneapolis. TONY ZACCARDI