Vandalized Decatur business owner: The community came together last night

A man with an umbrella walked up to The Little Cigar Shoppe on Second Avenue and bashed the glass door in.
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 8:46 PM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - The owner of a cigar shop vandalized Friday night in Decatur during a protest for Steve Perkins says he’s been amazed at the outpouring of support he’s seen from the community and from protestors.

WAFF 48 was the only crew on the scene with cameras rolling as a man with an umbrella walked up to The Little Cigar Shoppe on Second Avenue, and bashed the glass door in. Witnesses say he used a hammer. The incident happened as people were marching in support of Steve Perkins, the man shot and killed by Decatur Police in September. Earlier in the evening, Decatur’s Chief of Police announced that officers in that shooting had violated policy and he was recommending that the mayor punish those officers.

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ONLY ON WAFF: A vandal breaks the glass door to The Cigar Shoppe on Second Avenue in Decatur during a protest on Friday, November 17th, 2023

Our video shows several of those protestors yelling at the vandal, then chasing him down an alley after he’d smashed the glass. Several of those protestors told us they were hoping to stop the man and hold him for police, but they became concerned that he was armed when he reached in a bag. The vandal ultimately got away. Steve Perkins’ brother issued a statement condemning the vandalism.

On Saturday morning, our partners with the Decatur Daily spoke with The Cigar Shoppe’s owner, Jason Pitts. He says he was upstairs when he heard the commotion around 7:45 p.m. Pitts says he was heartened to see the response of the protestors against the vandal. “The people who were out doing the peaceful protest turned very quickly against (the person with a hammer). We had a group of gentlemen that chased him down, wearing their ‘I am Steve Perkins’ shirts. They were part of the protest and they dropped their signs and chased the guy all the way across Sixth Avenue and past b.b. Perrins,” Pitts told the Daily.

Pitts says witnesses were able to provide police with a description of the suspect, his vehicle and a partial plate number. He says several of them stayed behind to help him clean up. Other people who were out doing protests went to other businesses and started getting brooms and dustpans to help me clean up,” he told the Decatur Daily. “It turned very quickly into a ‘let’s support our business owners’ situation. They were not there to cause damage.” After helping Pitts clean up, they resumed their march. “I was kind of amazed at the outpouring of support,” he said Saturday. “The protest created the opportunity, but the protesters are not at fault. Somebody took advantage of the situation. This was an individual or a group of individuals acting on their own, trying to create division. What last night proved is that the community is just not going to let that happen. “There is no division. I think we came together as a community last night. "

Pitts says Steve Perkins’ brother, Nick, and several others reached out to him Friday night to make it clear they don’t support what happened to his business. Mayor Tab Bowling stopped by on Saturday to apologize, which Pitts says wasn’t necessary.

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