USA

In Long Beach, protesters confront looters targeting a shopping center

As protesters demonstrated against police abuse on Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach Sunday, some looters hit a nearby shopping center and ran away with merchandise.

Police and demonstrators were in a standoff near the Pike Outlets. Patrol cars were hit with eggs and water bottles as people began rushing police officers.

By 5 p.m. some had started looting shops at the outlet, carrying armfuls of clothing out of a Forever 21 clothing store. A T-Mobile store was also hit.

The crowd used hammers and threw trash can lids to smash windows.

Some protesters yelled at them to stop and to leave the stores alone.

Others yelled “let’s hit Nike” and ran toward the popular athletic goods store.

Several minutes later, some rushed back and stormed into Forever 21, slipping on clothes scattered on the floor.

Some protesters were dismayed by the scene.

Chandarley Lim kept saying, “peaceful protest, peaceful protest,”

She said she was sad to see vandalism and people trying to break into stores.

Another protester screamed at one of the looters, repeating, “Is this how you protest?”

At the Promenade in downtown Long Beach, business owners were rushing to board up restaurants, clothing stores and galleries.

Among them was Thomas Liu, owner of Loose Leaf Boba. He said he spent just a few hundred dollars to buy materials to board up his businesses. Liu said he had friends who own sushi, boba and ice cream stores that had been vandalized and broken into. Liu was taking no chances.

“I support the protests,” he said. But Liu said he wasn’t in favor of vandalism.

He said many businesses are losing money just boarding up their businesses. Pointing across the street at Portuguese Bend, a gastropub, he said boarding it up cost anywhere between $3,000 to $4,000 and an additional $8,000 for labor.

Nearby, contractors were working to board up other restaurants and a Ross.

Around the corner, Monica Fleming, co-owner of Loiter Galleries, watched as co-owner Vinny Picardí and Alan Parks, 62, boarded up the gallery. Inside friends were moving artwork to the back or out of the art space.

“I’m a little stressed,” she said, wearing a mask. “It’s unfortunate we have to do this.”

She said she called on friends to help move artwork out of the gallery. Most of the artwork — sculpture, photos and paintings — is by local artists.

Fleming said she was in favor of peaceful protests but doesn’t believe in the violence and vandalism that has broken out in recent days.

The gallery, which has been in Long Beach for three years but just a year at the current location, had only a few pieces of sculpture that Fleming and others were still moving around.

Picardi grew frustrated that police weren’t doing enough to protect businesses, forcing business owners to do it themselves. He said he didn’t understand why demonstrators were damaging and looting businesses owned by people of color.

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