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In Addition To Protesting, Black Denver Business Owners Encourage Community Members To Support Them

DENVER (CBS4) - As protestors continue to march across Colorado, there are other important ways people can show support for the movement and the black community in Denver and other cities.

"We're a African espresso bar with a focus on social justice," Millete Biehanemaskel explained.

Birhanemaskel owns the Whittier Café. It's a place her father always wanted to open, and a place where she can share her Ethiopian culture.

"Really it was about educating people where coffee comes from," she said. "I love it, I really do."

Millete Biehanemaskel
(credit: CBS)

It's also become a place for the community to gather and talk about change, especially with the recent death of George Floyd.

"There are several issues and several layers to what's happening right now," she told CBS4. "And part of that is supporting black lives and supporting black business."

She says that protesting isn't the only way to support the black community. Especially when businesses are already suffering the losses of COVID-19.

"We are one of the more visible businesses in the black community but there are many that are not," she said. "That are not getting the support."

Over in Five Points, Ryan Cobbins has been running Coffee at the Point for 10 years.

"I consider myself in eternal optimist, and there's nothing more optimistic than sharing a cup of coffee," Cobbins said, smiling.

Ryan Cobbins
(credit: CBS)

His shop is a place he's created for people to come together to enjoy good coffee, food and a space to work. He said it's a place for people to come together, not only when times are tough.

"The challenge that I have is that I don't need you to come just once," Cobbins said. "We're working on being sustainable. We need you to come daily or weekly -- daily or weekly or monthly, not once every 6 months."

Supporting the dozens of black-owned businesses, whether it's restaurants, clothing or personal services is something they both urge the community to do.

"Folks are reaching out saying 'Hey I appreciate you,' and I appreciate that because sometimes I feel like I'm on an island," Cobbins said.

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