L.A. Store Owners and Protesters React to Demonstrations

"Even if you bring the fire to my doorstep, I will stand in it with you," The Hundreds co-founder Bobby Kim said.

West 3rd Street Protesters

As Los Angeles faces a second day of curfews in response to Saturday's demonstrations over George Floyd's killing by police in Minnesota, local store owners are assessing the damage and protesters are reflecting how the events went from peaceful to violent. The protests continued today in Santa Monica, where stores at the popular outdoor shopping center Third Street Promenade were looted, reported Patch.

Saturday's protests began peacefully in the Beverly Grove area, including at popular shopping stretches such as Melrose and Fairfax Avenues, West Third Street, and Beverly Boulevard, according to the L.A. Times. The events deteriorated in the afternoon and looters burglarized and damaged nearby stores including Whole Foods, Adidas, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and Nordstrom and Apple locations at The Grove (where a police kiosk was also set on fire), reported the newspaper and Women's Wear Daily. Luxury boutiques on Rodeo Drive preemptively boarded up their windows in anticipation of potential riots and looting, according WWD.

As L.A. Times reported, police said that they believed "fringe elements" — not the majority of protesters — were responsible for the vandalism, looting, and other violent actions.

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Fairfax & 3rd

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Tina Reeves, a photographer, videographer, and community organizer who lives near The Grove with her sister, attended the demonstrations in order to document the events and "see it for myself," she told UncoverLA Sunday afternoon. "It was disheartening to see the aftermath," she said.

She stationed herself in the Trader Joe's parking lot to "get a good view of everything that's happening. I wasn't there in an aggressive matter and when [the police] started shooting [rubber bullets], at this point, I felt like my life is in danger," Reeves explained. She said that the peaceful events took a violent turn around 3:30 p.m. "It was frustrating to see businesses spray-painted; to see police cock their guns and shoot [rubber bullets] into the crowds, people running. I go to The Grove, I go to the post office right there. This is the most traumatic thing I've ever seen in my entire life."

Echoing what some protesters told the L.A. Times, Reeves said that she noticed mostly non-Black people "who were yelling and [being] overly aggressive. There were a few Black people who were just saying how angry and frustrated they were, but they weren't throwing things."

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The first two photos I took today. This is what I consider peaceful and meaningful protests that our laws afford us. The third is Nordstrom at The Grove after being looted in the name of George Floyd. Several commented on my last post that this is not violence and the right thing to do. Maybe I'm wrong maybe that's the legacy George Floyd wanted. But I have respect for the protestors in the first two photos who demonstrated all day long. The only time bean bags were used were when properly was being stolen (although by the comments many agree that's the right thing to do). I'm just not one of this people. Love wins every time. You can't continue to fight for justice when you're behind bars for felony grand theft.

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Wax salon owner and L.A. lash extensions artist Lindsay Pierce was among those who returned to a destroyed and looted storefront. Her hair waxing and lash salons on Melrose Avenue and in Santa Monica have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic.

After Citizen app alerts about the violence in West Hollywood, she logged into her Melrose studio's Nest security camera Saturday night to monitor the situation and watched helplessly as "three young men [who] were definitely not protesters" break into her store, Pierce told UncoverLA.

"I just feel really defeated," she said Sunday evening after spending the entire morning cleaning up her salon. "Almost every other business on the other side of the street was damaged."

She had a renewed sense of optimism after speaking with other Melrose business owners and seeing the community band together, she added. L.A. city cleanup crews helped remove debris, and "there were a lot of strangers [that came to help]; six to ten people were helping to clean the store within the four hours that we were there."

"Everybody was lending a hand to secure the area. The manager at Buffalo Exchange had a really good disposition. He said, 'We'll get through this,'" Pierce said.

She continued: "We're all in the same boat. Most of us strongly believe in equality and Black Rights Matter and fighting for this movement, but I think a lot of us are dumbfounded with our businesses being ransacked on top of the pandemic. It's really disheartening and it's hard to reconcile the two."

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They got me.

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West 3rd Street barbershop Close Quarters also shared an Instagram photo of its damaged storefront and video footage on IG Stories of the salon being burglarized. Around the corner at Sorella, rapper King Trell, who co-owns the Melrose boutique with fiancée and entrepreneur Heather Sanders, also posted images of the store's broken windows and interior damage.

The Hundreds co-founder Bobby Hundreds (né Kim) took to Instagram Sunday afternoon to share his thoughts: "I grew up here. We found our community here. We established our brand here. So, this is emotionally very difficult to watch and process. But, I am not angry about the devastation. When commenters ask how I can condone rioting and looting, I categorically do not," he wrote.

"Yet, I am not surprised. When people ask why I'm not upset that my business is impacted or my neighborhood pillaged, I tell them that my disgust over injustices in this country eclipses any other temporary feeling. Don't ever stop protesting (I never said 'rioting' or 'looting'). Dissent is a bona fide American act. Use your voice – people died for that right," says Kim.

He continued: "Even if you bring the fire to my doorstep, I will stand in it with you. And this: Is anyone truly surprised that 2020 looters would not set fires or rob banks, instead opting to steal Bearbricks and sneakers? We feed these kids this bullshit all day. Convince them they need things they don't, that they are not enough without a brand on their back… Disclaimer: First, I don't speak for all shop owners. This is my personal opinion and perspective. Second, I am aware that my shop is not my entire livelihood."

Linda Sivrican, the co-founder of Orris Perfumery, also shared a photo of her vandalized Melrose Avenue store. "We had some minor graffiti on our window, but very kind volunteers cleaned it up for us. Our management company advised us on boarding up the store to prevent any further damage so we agreed to that," she told UncoverLA Monday.

Sivrican wasn't at the Fairfax District protests, but said a friend who attended told her that "it was very peaceful and then all of sudden, chaos came out of nowhere from rogue people."

Her small-batch fragrance business, which she co-founded with her husband, Mike Sivrican, was already hit hard by the coronavirus. The duo had planned to reopen their store and launch new products, but the protests delayed those plans, she said. "Our plans to recover are not our main priority right now and we are blessed to have a landlord who has been kind with rent payments since the quarantine."

She continued: "What we'd like to do right now is to focus on supporting the protesters. Although our business has been impacted and we feel for our neighbors and their losses, personally we are not upset about losing profits right now. It is temporary and we hopefully will be okay. These protests are a very necessary message that must be heard by everyone in order to make a permanent change in our society. We stand in solidarity with the protesters. More than ever, it's Black lives that need our support the most right now."

This story is developing and will be updated; check back regularly.

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