A destroyed 7/11 window in the South Loop Credit: Provided/Lenita Gipson

CHICAGO — South Loop neighbors showed up with brooms, dustpans and gloves Sunday to help small businesses after they were vandalized during weekend looting.

Neighbors from the “Hello South Loop Facebook group coordinated cleanup efforts. Resident Lenita Gipson said there were 50-75 people involved in the effort, some of whom showed up as early as 6 a.m. Sunday to help.

“There were so many people walking around with brooms and dustpans. It was an amazing sight,” Gipson said.

The South Loop — like other parts of the Downtown area — saw businesses broken into, stolen from and vandalized over the weekend. Officials said protests in the area were largely peaceful, but separate groups of people used the events as cover to loot and wreak havoc.

Now, the city’s shut down the Downtown area and businesses throughout the city have faced similar vandalism and cleanup efforts.

RELATED: As Chicago Cleans Up From Fires And Theft Following Protests, Shop Owners Pick Up The Pieces

“I understand the purpose and I support the protestors and George Floyd should not have died. That was totally unnecessary and excessive use of force by the police,” Gipson said, but she added the people looting are separate from those protesting. “The looters I do not support destroying communities.”

The clean-up crew members were rewarded for their work with free coffee from Molly’s Cupcakes and lunch from Jet’s Pizza and Lowcountry. The restaurants fed neighbors noon-2 p.m. Sunday. 

“We teamed up and we were handing out slices to everyone kind of grouping up and helping the community. … We tried to help out the best we could,” said Jeremy Winn, general manager at Jet’s Pizza.

Lowcountry co-owner Pan Hompluem said the work of his neighbors was appreciated and he wanted to find a way to give back. 

“Seeing all of our neighbors come together, just like working hard that morning, we just thought it was a good idea to do. It was nice to see all our neighbors giving a hand, and it’s a tough time for everybody,” Hompluem said.

Hompluem said small businesses have been strained by the coronavirus pandemic and the looting, but, “At the end of the day glass can be repaired, things that were stolen can be replaced. I think that there’s a greater good to be had.” 

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