Louisville small-business owner says everyone has a responsibility to work towards positive change: ‘It is time for every business to take a stance’

Olivia Rose Griffin, owner of the Limbo, a tiki bar in downtown Louisville, Ky., likened the last several months to slow-motion whiplash. The coronavirus pandemic and Breonna Taylor protests have brought the local economy to a near standstill. But Griffin says that's nothing compared to lives being lost. She feels that every business has to "take a stance" on the issues that matter.

Video Transcript

- Businesses are run by people. Businesses need to have hearts. And no longer should a business be neutral, or be Switzerland, or have no political affiliation. It is time for every business to say, Black Lives Matter. Until Black Lives Matter, no lives matter.

OLIVIA ROSE GRIFFIN: My name's Olivia Rose Griffin. And I own a tiki bar called the Limbo and a cafe that's about to open called Riot Cafe. So everything changed when COVID hit, for everybody, especially here downtown, which is where my businesses are located. Because all the businesses downtown-- in any downtown city-- really rely on tourism. And because of COVID, there just has not been any tourism at all.

And then two weeks after restaurants were allowed to reopen is when the George Floyd situation occurred, which brought to light the Breonna Taylor incident. It was shocking to me. When I heard about Breonna Taylor and what happened to her-- because I heard about it months after it happened. It was not in the news. The protests ramped up right away. We went to, like, a Thursday night protest, went into Friday night riots.

And in my opinion, that was the only night that we have ever experienced riots. But they were serious riots. And they occurred mainly downtown, mainly on the corner where my businesses are located. And a lot of glass was broke in. A lot of businesses were looted. It was pretty shocking. It was very violating.

However, however, it's just property. It's just windows. It's not people. Nobody died. You know, no one, I think, even got injured that night, to my knowledge. It was-- it's just property. And so that definitely drew a hard line in the sand, I'm sure, in every city where there were riots between the people and the business owners who believe that destruction of property is the worst thing ever and those on the other side of the line that believe people are more important than property.

And so you definitely are now seeing businesses take a stance on one side or the other. For that first week right after the riots, it became immediately apparent that if I can't be open, I can, at the very least, support the protesters and be a hub for their supplies. So within a week, my entire patio was piled with all kinds of donations.

A lot of young people, the live streamers, they are so committed to not letting people forget about what happened, not letting all of this get swept under the rug. And it's been so impressive. So whatever I can do to support that. And two weeks after the riots, we reopened the bar, no problems. The marches and the protests do not negatively affect my business whatsoever.

However, when the results came out last Wednesday, which happened on my birthday-- it was, like, the worst day ever-- there was no charges in the Breonna situation against the officers. There was a charge of one of them shooting into a neighbor's home. But there were no actual charges regarding Breonna Taylor being murdered in her house. And obviously, the city knew about this. Because they barricaded the entire downtown two days before.

So they already knew what the results were. We all knew as soon as they started putting up barricades what the results were going to be. I think this issue of systemic and blatant racism is everyone's issue. Everyone has a responsibility to do the most that they possibly can to change the way things are done fundamentally. As a business owner, I feel like it is time for every business to take a stance, to make their values very well known and heard.

It's not time to try and appeal to both sides, to try and placate everyone. It's time to say, this is where I stand. And, yes, you do have officers who were incredibly irresponsible, and did not take their duty seriously, and acted in a terrible manner. But ultimately, they were given orders by someone above them. And that someone was given orders by someone above them. So what you're really looking at right now-- whose fault is it that Breonna Taylor's dead? Mitch McConnell, Daniel Cameron, Mayor Greg Fisher, those are three major players. And I think everyone is about to see a lot more information. It has not all surfaced. Keep looking for the truth. Keep looking for the truth. It's so important.