Originally posted June 3rd, 2020: Dear Tri-Cities,
We discovered late last night (Tuesday) that a group of people were maintaining a "presence" outside of our storefront, in order to deter vandalism at a neighboring business. We were not aware of them being there until after 9pm, long after we had closed and gone home for the night.
We had a brief discussion with them to find out why they were there. Members of the group are the owners of a neighboring business. They assured us they would refer all incidents to the police and that they had no intent to harm anyone. I let them know that we have insurance and cameras and security and that a little broken glass or a stolen book is worth no one's life. Last night, I left it at that and went home to bed.
Because tensions are running high for many people, and fear and divisiveness is rampant, we understand that their mere presence outside our store was antagonistic. (Again, we had nothing to do with them being there.) If we find they have intent to be present again, I will have further discussion with them and go from there about what needs to be done.
To be clear, we support freedom of speech and peaceful protest, condemn brutality, violence, and vandalism, and keep a strong hope that we as Tri-Citians and as a species can develop peaceful dialogues despite conflict, and work together and develop compassionate resolutions that support all our fellow humans.
Peace and love,
Amanda Divine, Owner
June 2nd, 2020: Happy 13th anniversary, Adventures Underground! In celebration, we'd like to give our love and support to people of color and minorities everywhere, to encourage peaceful protest in the name of good, freedom of speech, and the riddance of hate. Stay safe, everyone.
June 4th(?), 2020 Updates: Thank you all for your discussions. There are many valid responses and feelings, and that's what this is about, right? Being able to engage in a civil discussion without fearing for your life? As a bookstore, this is extremely important to us. Thank you for everyone who has expressed love and support - it is very much appreciated.
I don't fault the other business owner, or anyone for being concerned over their life's work. I get it. If something happened to Adventures Underground (20+ years for me), I would be sad and angry, and I think a lot of you would be, too. But I also believe that if some kind of major vandalism happened, our community and our people would help clean, patch, and repair us after, and make us better than ever, just like what I'm seeing over and over again around the country, after a couple of loose rockets try to destroy the will of the masses.
I also get that sometimes just being present can be a deterrent. This afternoon I had a pleasant chat with our aforementioned neighboring business owner, during which our "presence" may have been a unintended deterrent for the group of 10 or so children hanging around the sidewalk (without masks, mind you) who may or may not have been planning any kind of mischief there in broad daylight. But nothing happened and now we'll never know.
This is a crazy time of uncertainty and pent-up emotions. It is a complex situation and people do things while heated that might be regretted later. And maybe they won't be regretted - because they are dead, or even because they are proud to have defended their buildings, their work, their objects...there is definitely controversy about the value of human life, and when it should be ended, all over the world. I'm choosing life. I hope I would never kill someone over merchandise, and I try to avoid putting myself in situations where that might happen. Your mileage may vary.
In my initial conversation with the group I said "Look, I don't want anyone to get killed here. I did a lot of stupid things as a teenager and if I'd been shot for that there would BE no Adventures Underground." One of the men in the group said, and at the moment at least it did reassure me about their intent, "If all teenagers got shot for doing stupid things there would be no teenagers." (Then again, there are plenty of teenagers who DO get shot doing stupid things, and plenty of teenagers getting shot doing smart things around stupid people....which I suppose is part of the reason for a post in the first place.)
For those of you tripped up by my language, I used "antagonistic" because that word was used by several people people of the public (and also our staff) who asked us why we had armed guards outside our business, and because they felt unsafe; because I was worried about a group of strangers milling about after hours during a time of high tension, getting approached my numerous people for brief interactions at their tailgate; because my first in-person impression of the group was indeed confrontational, AND (this is huge:) because I had to hear about it secondhand at bedtime when I'm trying to get my kid into the bath. If nothing else, The Century Dictionary defines "antagonistic" as "Contending against; acting in opposition; mutually opposing; opposite," so to be fair, if you are trying to be the opposite of a deserted and shuttered storefront, a group of people sitting outside of it would indeed fit that definition.
Honestly I don't know if anyone was armed - no one was brandishing a weapon, but there are other groups floating around that are. This group said they saw two guys they didn't know walking through the Uptown with automatic rifles. There is a lot of suspicion everywhere and I hope we can all relax one of these days, and that if we can't stop people from getting hurt then we can at least keep it from happening right in front of us.
Again, this is a complex situation in all of our communities, and I think it's okay to feel strongly about certain things and I think it's okay to have mixed feelings about other aspects. I'm grateful we can talk about it.
TLDR: Thank you for your discussions and support! We're okay with other people doing what they feel is right for their own businesses, and we also really really hope that no blood is spilled. I don't even know if this group was armed (though they do have mace). We want to be a safe space for our community, and we are still on good terms with our neighboring business. And all of you, whether or not you agree with our attitude/beliefs/post, please take care, and do some good out there.