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Business owners sue city officials over Freddie Gray unrest

freddie gray riots
Posted at 1:31 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2018-12-31 14:31:27-05
In the midst of the riots, business owners in West Baltimore were left to fend for themselves.
 
"It was looted, vandalized and then set on fire if that makes sense," said John Chae, the owner of Fireside North Liquors, as he spoke with ABC2 News about that night a few weeks after losing his business and as he was recovering from a vicious attack.
 
"I presume it was a brick,” said Chae as he recalled being injured. “The impact was so great it just shattered the bone here... broke my cheek bone."
 
This after Chae had tried to contact police to no avail.
 
"Prior to that of course when they were breaking in, I made a call to police trying to see where we are in terms of this and I just got a voice recording... just a voice recording and I just hung up."
 
Now Chae is one of 60 merchants who is suing Baltimore, a host of city leaders and its police department for failing to protect them.
 
In a written statement, Attorney Peter D. Hwang said,
 
"The city and other defendants failed them when they adopted a policy of restraint and issued stand-down orders, caring more about the public perception that they feared would result with increased police presence than preventing what were clearly preventable riots."
 
In the aftermath of the destruction, Chae blamed then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
 
"As far as Mrs. Rawlings-Blake. She's made a really critical mistake," said Chae.  
 
And Rawlings-Blake is named in the suit, along with the city, the police department and former Commissioner Anthony Batts despite their claims later that they did what they could.
 
"I never said nor would I ever say we are giving people space to destroy our city.  So my words should not be twisted," Rawlings-Blake told reporters in the aftermath of the riots.
 
It's a point of contention for those, who in many cases, lost everything they had built for themselves on a night when help never arrived.
 
"Yes.  I've got bills piling up and I'll probably have to go for another loan through the government and what have you... just get by," said Chae.
 
Adding insult to injury, the suit alleges that the city was underhanded in offering business owners $5,000 grants, which required them to sign away any rights to receive full compensation for their losses.