Low level street thugs are making a mess of things in the Westgate Plaza Neighborhood near 84th and Center. They are making good on threats of vandalism. Businesses will not pay protection money, and now have to clean up broken glass.
Har K. Dev has lived in Omaha for a decade and never once has had a problem like he has now. Two guys recently came into the Indian Grocery and tried to shake him down.
Har K. Dev says, "I'm not going to give any money to them."
Dev runs a small business with loyal customers, now he has people trying to get protection money from him so his windows won't be broken.
Dev won't pay.
Har K. Dev says, "We came to this country for better opportunities and we got those opportunities and we have no problems with anybody else so I don't know maybe they have some kind of hatred against us."
The same guys approached the Mediterranean Foods Store but Khalil Amin was not there that day, he was when the thugs tried to collect.
Khalil Amin says, "He said, I came to collect the money," I said "What money?" "The $75." I said, "For what" and they said, "Well for protection."
Amin kicked them out of his store, but they returned a few days later.
Khalil Amin says, "The whole window was smashed there was a big brick inside the store too."
Damage to the China Garden is not as severe, but the thought they were targeted because of who they are upsets Will Wang.
Will Wang says, "Maybe they just want to take advantage of us because we're not a citizen or we're not born here in this country English is the second language."
But the businessmen are willing to stand up for what is right, no matter what the cost.
At this point, Omaha Police do not classify these as to be hate crimes, but the investigation is just getting underway, as evidence comes in that may change.
The businesses just want it all to stop, and the crooks to pay.