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Businesses damaged during Kenosha unrest looking to bounce back one year after Jacob Blake shooting

"We are not afraid. We are strong," said the owner of Uptown Restaurant
Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 19:45:28-04

KENOSHA — The shooting of Jacob Blake turned Kenosha into chaos. Now, businesses that were heavily damaged in the aftermath are looking back on how they've dealt with a year unlike any other.

For nearly six years, Abel Alejo was the proud owner of Uptown's La Estrella Supermarket in Kenosha. That was until he saw his business go up in flames after violence broke out following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

"It was just awful, being there and not being able to do anything. There were firefighters there, they were trying to stop it, they worked very, very hard but there wasn't much that they could do," said Alejo.

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Now, one year later since the shooting, Alejo is still trying to rebuild his supermarket so he can open his doors to the community once again. But it hasn't been easy.

"We need more space and to build out is kind of expensive, so we had to be very careful as to what building we were going to pick for the store," said Alejo.

Yolanda Hernandez owns Uptown Restaurant. She remembers watching her business burn down to the ground like it was yesterday.

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"It was sad not just seeing all the businesses burn down, but seeing Kenosha destroyed," said Hernandez.

In that moment, she says she wasn't going to let what happened to her business keep her from serving the community. On July 28, she opened in a new location.

"The support from the community and the good thoughts and prayers is what kept us up," said Hernandez.

"I'm glad that Uptown is open and that everyone is recovering from it," said Kenosha resident, Dominique Green.

In a statement, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said, "Kenosha has moved forward to unify and heal. More than ever before, we are investing in our people, our infrastructure, and our business development."

"This happened, and we want this to be the last time that it happens in any community," said Alejo.

"We are not afraid. We are strong," said Hernandez.

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