BRONX, N.Y. - In the blink of an eye, 12 years of hard work for Johanzer Sanchez was reduced to shattered glass.
Fragments of the chaotic hours, in which dozens upon dozens of looters ransacked his store, Beverly Hills Furniture.
“How does it feel that your kids come to my store and take my merchandise? What if you were in my shoes and had a business?” Sanchez asked.
Sanchez says he found out that his shop had been overrun, after getting a message on Instagram. The store surveillance cameras captured the smash and grab that went on from Monday night to Tuesday morning. By the time he got to the shop near the corner of East Kingsbridge and Fordham Road, it was almost empty.
Other stores in the Fordham shopping area were also broken into and looted, following protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Some residents says the violence and stealing distracts form the powerful message of equality.
“People are trying to make a living. If you have a problem with the cops, take it to the cops. Why do you have to destroy other people’s property?” asked one Bronx resident.
In Fordham, some business owners are identifying themselves as black or brown to avoid getting looted.
On Thursday, the mayor announced financial and legal assistance to help Bronx businesses that were looted.
Sanchez, who migrated from the Dominican Republic as a child, once worked as a delivery truck driver for a furniture store. He saved for years to open his own at the age of 21, and has a second location on Morris Park Avenue. He says he understands the peaceful protests against racial discrimination, but doesn’t understand how that is connected to stealing someone else’s merchandise.
It is the second time he’s had to pick up the pieces.
“I had a big fire in 2018 in one of my stores. I lost everything. I went into a depression and it was hard," Sanchez said.
The father of three says with or without any help from the city, he plans to rebuild and has set up a go fund me page.
“I’m a fighter. I came to this country without anything and I got it. You can take it back again. I’m going to get it again. For me failure is not an option," he added.