NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Days after peaceful protests in Nashville devolved into violence and destruction, people will again gather in the city Thursday to make their voices heard.
A peaceful protest is planned for Thursday evening at Bicentennial Capitol State Park in downtown Nashville.
Franklin teenagers Jade Fuller and Emma Rose Smith, both 15, founded the coalition, Teens 4 Equality, with three other teenagers, hoping to create a conversation of unity in Tennessee.
The coalition planned the march with the support of Black Lives Matter Nashville. The rally will begin at the Bicentennial Mall at 4 p.m. and end with a march to the state Capitol.
Fuller and Smith said they were motivated after the death of George Floyd.
“We’re just going to be chanting and spreading awareness and feeling empowered just by being near each other and seeing all of that support,” said Fuller.
Downtown businesses continue their preparations for the protest while still cleaning up from Saturday night’s destruction.
The nearby Nashville Farmers’ Market’s executive director told News 2 they’ve been coordinating with the Bicentennial Mall over the past few days.
Leaders at the market said their plan has always been to close 4 p.m. Some operators may choose to close early so their employees can attend the rally or go home.
“We’re not modifying our hours of operation for the rally that’s taking place in Nashville, we’re continuing to open as planned and we’ll adapt as we need to if we hear we need to do that,” said Executive Director Tasha Kennard.
Many of the businesses on Broadway are still boarded up following Saturday night’s riots, while others are making preparations.
“We only plan on running one shift that day and we are going to close as early as we can just to make sure all my employees get home safe, make sure we stay safe as possible,” said Kris Mayfield the General Manager of Savannah’s Candy Kitchen in Nashville.
However, other establishments like John Rich’s Redneck Riviera will be boarding up their windows with plans to be closed for the day. While an employee at Legends Gift Shop told News 2 they will not be boarding up, saying they refuse to “give in.”
The owner of Layla’s Honky Tonk told News 2 they plan to stay open until at least 7 p.m. as of right now, but expects there will be a curfew. She said the bar has only been open five days since COVID-19 and three of those days had a curfew, making it hard on the cities small business owners.
Most business owners told News 2 they are waiting for guidance from Mayor Cooper as to how to handle Thursday.
Thirty downtown businesses and buildings were damaged Saturday in Nashville by vandals, according to Metro police, including multiple fires set at Nashville’s Historic Courthouse.
Business in the Hickory Hollow area of Antioch have also boarded up their storefronts as a precaution for potential riots.
Protest organizers emphasized the rally will be a peaceful event calling for an end to injustices toward the black community.