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Downtown business owner who was caught in protests shares support of Black Lives Matter

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 23:43:25-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mark Donavan, owner of Magical Journeys Carriage Service, and his horses had only been back on the streets of the Old Market for a few weeks last Saturday, when they came across a frightening scene.

"I could see as I was coming up Howard St., it looked like all hell was breaking loose, which it was," Donovan said. "You could hear percussion grenades or whatever going off, you could see the flashing lights of the police cars and you could see tons of smoke everywhere."

Donavan said he struggled to find a safe route back to his stable near 20th and Farnam, with traffic and long lines of police vehicles blocking several streets.

"The protesters were cool to us," Donovan recalled. "They were stopping their cars to let us through, they were telling us which way not to go because of pepper spray or tear gas or whatever it was that they were using, and they were yelling at other protesters not to honk their horns as to not to spook the horses."

The following morning, Donovan discovered that two of his windows had been broken the night before. With the help of some community members and family, he was able to make repairs and share a message of solidarity.

Donovan's shop was one of several that was helped by volunteers cleaning up Downtown on Sunday morning.

"They did a ton of the work, and it was really impressive," Donovan said. "I thought 'These situations bring out the best and the worst in people.'"

Once the boards were up, Donovan allowed a family member to create some artwork. He says he's saddened to see local businesses vandalized, but ultimately stand behind the protester's cause.

"I believe that its no longer good enough to be non-racist. I believe you have to be anti racist."

Donovan decided to close Sunday through Thursday this past week. Friday, he gave at least one ride, even knowing demonstrations were planned.

"I'm hopeful, but I'm apprehensive," Donovan said of the upcoming week.

Donovan says while he's out this weekend, he will be keeping an eye on reports of protests in the Old Market area to keep his customers, horses and drivers safe.