A Mo., owner who watched his shop go up in flames during the riots of 2014 is calling on today's protesters to halt the destruction of their communities.
In an interview on Kurt Barks said he's feeling the same anxiety he had while watching his city burn over a fatal police shooting.
"I had really prayed that this was in our past and no one else would have to experience what we went through," he said.
"There [are] a lot of businesses that never came back that [were] lost throughout that time. We were fortunate to have multiple locations," Barks said of his business, Complete Auto Body & Repair.. "So, yeah, the financial impact was millions of dollars. The emotional impact was irrevocable. It was insane."
Nationwide raged six years ago after a white Ferguson shot and killed an 18-year-old unarmed black man. The riots lasted weeks, then resumed after a grand jury did not indict the officer. In March 2015, the called on Ferguson to overhaul its criminal justice system, citing constitutional violations.
The recent death of 46-year-old painted a similar picture. In a viral video, a white Minneapolis police officer is seen kneeling for minutes on Floyd's neck as the handcuffed man pleads for him to stop, then becomes unresponsive.
The chilling video sparked protests across the country urging the arrest of Officer Derek Chauvin and several other officers involved in the incident. Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter.
According to Barks, the message being sent by Ferguson protesters was lost in the ensuing violence, when "opportunists took advantage of a bad situation,just like they're doing in Minnesota."
"None of those people in our community lived there. They simply came there to destroy things and almost were paid to be there to destroy things. It was horrible," Barks told host Griff Jenkins. "And, again, the damage it caused to a community that was the largest walking population in Missouri that goes to a grocery store, goes to a gas station, was pretty much burned to the ground. And it's disgusting. And, it hurts a lot."
Barks' message for the George Floyd protesters?
"I would say if they are going to do any harm, they’d maybe want to pick up their signs and go somewhere and make an impact instead of destroying their own community," he advised.
"Just a month ago, I thought everybody was in it together and now we have all this unrest. It’s too much for people to put up with, and the anxiety people are going through is completely unfair to the business owners, the community," Barks said. "Just leave the businesses alone. Let your community rebuild. Be strong."