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They re guitars, not human lives : Montreal store owner says getting looted was worth it to fight racism

They re guitars, not human lives : Montreal store owner says getting looted was worth it to fight racism
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MONTREAL -- On Sunday night, after most people went home from Montreals Black Lives Matter march, troubling videos emerged from downtown.

They showed young people stepping through the smashed windows of businesses along Ste. Catherine St., and one business in particularSteves Music Store, where looters were filmed carrying out guitars.

It s clearly not good for business, says the owner of Steves Music, a Montreal institution. But dont get him wrong, he says: it was all worth it.

Without any questions whatsoever, it s a noble demonstration and it s clearly far overdue, says Lenny Lanteigne, the stores owner.

It was unfortunate that a few hooligans turned it into a free-for-all, he says.

It is awful. But next to what some people are going through, this is nothing.

The stores insurance company is currently reviewing the damage, and Lanteigne isnt sure yet how itll all turn out financially, he said.

The Steves Music in downtown Montreal first opened in 1965, and Lanteigne has run it since the early 80s, eventually moving it from St. Antoine St. to nearby Ste. Catherine three years ago.

The pandemic had already created unprecedented problems. Not only was the shop shut down for nine weeks, but many of its customers are professional musicians who are out of work indefinitely, Lanteigne saysvenues and live tours will likely be some of the last things to reopen.

Steves Music was allowed to reopen last Monday. Having people walk away with the stores stock less than a week later was not the recovery Lanteigne envisioned.

He stayed home while two staff members who lived closer to the store went there to try to secure it.

We ve lost a great deal of product, not to mention the inability at this point to refresh that product, because manufacturers are kind of in the same boat that we were in for the last nine weeks in that they re not making guitars, said Lanteigne.

So even if we did go find a pot of gold and want to go buy a bunch of guitars, there s not really a lot of them for sale.

Still, he says, he hasnt regretted for a minute that the demonstration happened.

I think if you see the clip of Mr. Floyd being executed, for lack of a better word, and you re not moved by thatif you weren t aware that this was going on before, or you were oblivious to it, you can no longer just turn a blind eye to it, he said, referring to Minneapolis man George Floyd, whose death while in the custody of that citys police last Monday sparked off this weeks nationwide protests.
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