Louisville store owner in viral video: ‘I refuse to be a victim’

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Fadi Faouri has slept in his store in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, for 122 straight nights, trying to protect a livelihood that is nearly destroyed.

“Napping” may be a better way to describe it, he said, since he rarely gets more than a few minutes of shuteye at a time.

“If I leave my store, I leave to go home, take a shower, change my clothes and go back,” he told the Post.

It’s been this way since springtime, when the nation erupted with protests following the May 25 death of George Floyd. In Louisville, the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police when they raided her apartment March 13, was joined with Floyd’s as a rallying cry for demonstrators.

The protests are often violent, said Faouri, 38, whose store is less than a half-mile from the park that’s been the center of the protests.

“Stuff is being damaged on a nightly basis, people are shooting at each other every night,” said Faouri, who’s had the shop for eight years. “Every night we have a new store that got looted. They break in, they take whatever and go. They walk away.”

Business is so bad right now because of the protests, Faouri planned to move his shop a few blocks away starting Monday.

The new location was torched Thursday night.

Workers clear debris from a store leased by Faouri after it was firebombed.James Keivom

“I was basically finishing the paint and all kinds of stuff and it got burned to the ground,” he said, adding business owners in Louisville can’t get insurance right now, so he’s stuck footing the bills for repairing the store.

After state Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced Wednesday the officers involved in the raid on Taylor’s apartment were not indicted by a grand jury, the crowds marching past his store grew bigger and even more destructive.

So on Friday night, Faouri took his gun and leaned against the window of the VIP Smoke Shop as the protesters marched by, as he did dozens of times the past few months. “Whenever there is a lot of movement outside, I stand outside,” he said.

This time, a reporter for the Daily Caller was on the scene when activists confronted Faouri and tried to get him to support their cause, and the video he shot of marchers confronting Faouri went viral.

“Does Black Lives Matter?” a young Black man asks Faouri. A woman adds, “Does Breonna Taylor matter?” and a crowd quickly gathers.

Faouri, who immigrated from Jordan as a teenager and moved to Louisville from California about 10 years ago, said there were about 50 people standing there, but he refused to engage, stating multiple times he doesn’t want to get involved in the controversy, just wants to protect his store.

“As long as they are talking only, that’s fine with me,” he said. “But they cannot force me to say something I don’t want to say.”

It was far from the first time he was confronted, Faouri said. Activists have even come into his store to demand he hire Black people, and after his personal information was shared online, some protesters have shown up at his house.

“They’ve been out of hand,” he said. “They try to force me to do stuff that I don’t want to do, and I will not do.”

He’s gotten so many death threats, “I lost count.” But the threats haven’t deterred him. “I refuse to be a victim.”

A street view of VIP Smoke Shop & Gifts

James Keivom

Faouri is seen inside of his store

James Keivom

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