Firefighter Kb Balla and wife Twyana are just two of the estimated hundreds of business owners in Minneapolis that had their businesses looted and destroyed by rioters this past week.
Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black male who died earlier this week following a disturbing arrest, broke out on Tuesday and quickly turned into mobs of violent looters and arsonists, continuing through Friday.
In a local news cast, Kb Balla, who is black, was moved to tears showing reporters what was left of his set-to-be-opened sports bar, called Scores. The moving posted went viral and was even retweeted by President Donald Trump.
A GoFundMe account that was started for the family saw an immediate spike in donations, hitting nearly $700,000 by Saturday afternoon.
“Scores Sports Bar was LOOTED, VANDALIZED and DESTROYED 5/27/2020,” the GoFundMe said. “This black-owned business is left trying to pick up the pieces amidst mourning with the community.”
“Kb Balla & his wife Twyana are active members of their community,” it continued. “KB is a Firefighter on the Brooklyn Center Fire Department and Twyana was a member of the Sounds of Blackness. They have 4 beautiful children and the toll of this entire situation is heavy. KB has been a community entrepreneur for decades and coaches and contributes to the community in which they live.”
— Former Democrats for Trump (@YoungDems4Trump) May 29, 2020
Moved by the massive show of support, Mr. Balla posted a thank-you message to all those who donated and assisted with the clean-up, and offered his sympathies to the Floyd family.
“I would just like to start by saying the amount of gratitude in my heart right now is outweighing the sorrow and heavy-heartedness I feel,” he wrote. “Yesterday, I was able to share my story, and the outpour of financial, physical, and emotional support has been overwhelming. As I think about my losses, I also want to extend my condolences to the Floyd family… My business can be rebuilt but his life cannot be regained.”
“Many of you know that Scores Sports Bar was my DREAM,” Balla continued. “It was all coming together and when COVID-19 hit, the reality of not being able to open for a grand opening was difficult. With the help of my family and friends, I pushed through. To find out that the countless hours, hard work, late nights away from my kids, and family had all been for nothing was soul shattering. It is not the material things, more so the time that cannot be reclaimed.”
“I went to Scores yesterday and all I could do was cry,” he said. “As a firefighter and public servant, I am used to saving lives and being strong, but this broke me. The glass was broken, it was looted, and vandalized.”
“While filming for CNN, people came in trying to steal the safe and I wondered what next? My community, that’s what,” he continued.
Balla said “strangers showed up with brooms, cleaning supplies, trash bags, and food” to help his family.
“They helped me and my family clean up in 20 minutes what would have took days,” he wrote. “THIS IS WHAT GIVES ME HOPE! I want to thank and shed light on the real true Minnesotans who helped many of us small business owners clean up yesterday.”
“Right now is a tough time for my family and I, but also the community and the whole state,” added the firefighter. “I know it will take some time, but we will rebuild and come back even stronger than ever.”
“To the countless people who donated on the Go Fund Me page, sent emails of encouragement, and those praying for us and supporting us around the world, THANK YOU! We are all in this together. Stay safe, stay blessed, and keep praying for Minnesota.”