Cook County Sheriff’s office employees donned hard hats Monday to help clean up debris at Dream Jewelers in south suburban Calumet City as part of Tom Dart’s initiative to assist small businesses affected by recent looting.
A car rammed into the 3-year-old business before people ran inside, damaging showcases and taking merchandise during protests over George Floyd’s death, according to owners Joanna DeJesus and Berto Anaya.
“It looked like a tornado passed by,” DeJesus said of the chaos that took place between May 31 and June 1. “It was completely trashed.”
The couple recorded the looters on Facebook Live until they said they were threatened with weapons.
Condel White, who owns All Nations Barber Shop next door, was in his shop when he saw nearly 20 people in the parking lot making their way into the jewelry store, 1624 Sibley Blvd. White called police, but, “apparently they had several other calls” and advised him to close up for the night.
“I went across the street after I closed the shop and they threw a stone in the window, so I ran back over here and said, ‘You don’t s––– where you eat,’” White said.
DeJesus and Anaya, who are still assessing how much jewelry was stolen, ended up calling the mayor’s office for help and staff there connected them with the sheriff’s office.
Dart has made the clean up efforts at small businesses a priority, said Tisa Morris, director of community engagement at the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff “saw the looting and he saw the destruction and he decided that we’re going to get out there and do whatever we can,” Morris said.
Monday, the repurposed sheriff office employees picked up broken glass inside Dream Jewelers and cleaned up the dirt and dust that stained the floors.
“We didn’t even know where to begin with the repairs. We didn’t have any motivation,” DeJesus said. “But we’re thankful that the Cook County Sheriff’s office reached out to us and slowly but surely it already looks 100% better. It’s not all the way there, but it just feels like we’re moving step by step to open the business back up and be able to serve the community.”
For information on cleanup assistance, business owners can email ccso.sheriffrebuild@cookcountyIL.gov.