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"Summer Of Hate" Continues To Hurt Some Charlottesville Businesses

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Many were injured when white supremacists sparked violence in Charlottesville last summer, but they were not the only victims. 

Some merchants on the downtown mall have warned city council that shops and restaurants could be going out of business as a result. 

Even before the bloodshed on August 12th, white supremacists clashed with opponents on the mall, shouting and threatening one another.  The atmosphere apparently alarmed some area residents who chose to stop coming downtown.

“We’ve been here for 24 years, and we’ve never seen an economic environment like it is today – not even during the great recession,” John Lawrence recently told Charlottesville City Council. 

Lawrence and his wife Lynelle founded the Mudhouse Coffee shop in 1993. “There are many businesses who are tapped out on loans, tapped out on their lines of credit.  They’re living week to week, day to day,” Lawrence said

Part of the problem is competition – two new shopping centers opening in the last few years. But Lawrence says the Summer of Hate didn’t help.

Joan Fenton, who owns a clothing store and a gift shop on the mall, said the installation of parking meters in 105 spaces that had been free also upset customers. “Anecdotally we’re hearing that some are down 20-40 percent," Fenton told councilors. "And when those meters came in, people went, ‘That’s it.  I’ve had it!’”

The city responded by suspending the pilot parking meter project.  

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief