WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – QuikTrip has decided to temporarily close its store at 21st and Arkansas after a looting incident late Tuesday.
A spokesperson for QuikTrip said, “We made the decision based upon safety for our employees and customers to temporarily close and board up the store.”
The overnight hours in Wichita led to multiple incidents prompting responses from Wichita police and other area law enforcement.
The 21st Street and Arkansas intersection, an area that has seen both peaceful demonstrations and incidents of violence since Sunday, turned violent late Tuesday, as a group of people could be seen breaking into the QuikTrip, multiple people carrying items out of the store. The store appeared to have been closed before people arrived.
Wichita police responded and shut down the area. Some onlookers were initially allowed to stay in the area as police worked to disperse the crowd at QuikTrip. In one video posted online, you can hear people yelling at the looters to stop. Law enforcement used teargas or some chemical irritant being deployed on the crowd. By 1 a.m., the crowd had dispersed.
Law enforcement responded to multiple locations around the city into the early morning hours but there did not appear to be large crowds or widespread unrest. Officers could be seen blocking entrances to shopping centers in the area of 21st and Rock. Multiple crews blocked the entrances to the Towne East Square. Many QuikTrips around the city were closed, some with patrol cars stationed in the area.
Tuesday evening started with a peaceful protest at 21st Street and Maize. People gathered on the corners carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs protesting the death of George Floyd, the man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer kneeled on his neck. Others at the rally handed out flowers to people who gathered. Multiple demonstrations since last weekend have been peaceful and well attended.
Law enforcement was present throughout the evening. Police dispersed the crowd late in the evening, declaring it an unlawful assembly, as tensions began to rise, but no obvious business damage or widespread violence was seen. Most businesses in New Market Square area closed early, hearing that protests could be held in the area.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said earlier Tuesday that police were ready to respond, and had been fired on in the early morning hours at 21st and Arkansas, releasing body footage of the incident late Tuesday. He said the department supports peaceful protests but needed to step in to prevent further escalation. Ramsay had denounced the actions in the video of Floyd’s death, saying he saw a murder take place, the day before the fired officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested.
Mayor Brandon Whipple met with faith leaders Tuesday urging calm and asking for the community to come together. More peaceful protests are planned in the coming days.