Vandals heavily damage 9 Fort Lauderdale businesses after protest

Protest was scheduled for Lauderhill, but organizers moved it to Huizenga Park after city didn’t want to host it

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – While Miami took the brunt of vandalism on Saturday night, it was Fort Lauderdale who suffered destruction after a protest there Sunday.

Vandals driving in cars down East Las Olas Boulevard’s business district threw rocks and bottles into store windows, extensively damaging them around 9 p.m.

The incident on Las Olas Boulevard happened after many of the people from the organized protest had gone home from Huizenga Plaza, 10 blocks away from where a Black Lives Matter rally was held.

The front window of Wentworth Gallery at 819 Las Olas Blvd. was completely blown out and some of the art was damaged. A piece of artwork valued at $58,000 was destroyed.

Other businesses that had front windows smashed included Gran Forno Bakery at 1235 East Las Olas Blvd. and Sarracino Salon at 1233 E. Las Olas Blvd.

A few more buinesses on Las Olas Boulevard were targeted, but hurricane impact windows deflected the rocks and bottles that were thrown.

Vandals hit the 7 Eleven on Broward Park Boulevard, a few blocks from the Broward Center Performing Arts Center, where they broke glass, threw trash and graffitied the building.

Also near the Broward Performing Arts Center in the bar and restaurant district of Himmarshee, Himmarshee Public House, 201 SW 2nd Street, O-B Breakfast House, Pizza Craft, Fat Cats and Vegan Café, all on Himmarshee Street, sustained damage by vandals.

Police said two arrests have been made in connection with the vandalism. The vandals were not linked to the protest, but took advantage of the situation.

Fort Lauderdale was not scheduled to host a protest on Sunday. It became one of two in South Florida marches that attracted hundreds of people who took to the streets of Fort Lauderdale and Miami to protest the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt into his neck for almost 9 minutes. Protesters said they were also demonstrating acts of police brutality against people of color.

City of Fort Lauderdale officials only learned about the gathering two hours before it began at 3 p.m. The group did not have a permit and police had little time to plan.

Police officers did walk up and down Las Olas telling businesses to close up early or for restaurants to take their tables in.

The City of Lauderhill informed Black Lives Matter organizers Saturday that it was postponing its scheduled protest for Sunday at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center.

But the group sent a notice on Twitter that it was continuing with its protest in Fort Lauderdale at Huizenga Plaza.

Many of the restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard and Himmarshee Street had just reopened on May 18 after a two month closure due to coronavirus and were only allowed to serve at 50 percent capacity.

About the Authors:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local