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More Than 150 Santa Monica Businesses Report "Significant Damage" from Sunday's Violence
 

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By Jorge Casuso

June 2, 2020 -- More than 150 local businesses sustained "significant damage" during a spree of looting and violence that made Santa Monica a focal point during nationwide protests on Sunday.

A total of 347 damage reports were recorded by the City on Monday, including 292 reports of damage to retail businesses, with 155 reporting significant damage, City officials said.

The damage dealt a major blow to many of the businesses reopening after being shut down for two-and-a-half months during the coronavirus emergency.

"It's the perfect storm," said Chamber of Commerce President Dave Rand. "Having this happen on the first day of the reopening. You can't make this stuff up. It's tragic."

Rand said some of the damaged business are not covered by insurance because they couldn't afford to make payments during the shutdown or aren't covered in cases of civil unrest.

"It's been a couple of days filled with nothing but tragic feedback," he said.

Forty-one arrests were made on Monday and 438 on Sunday for looting, violating curfew, burglary and assault, City officials said.

Almost all of the arrests were made after looters ransacked city businesses for more than three hours virtually unchecked as local television stations aired the footage live ("Santa Monica Demonstration Turns Violent, Looters Ransack Stores," June 1, 2020)

The images -- beamed across the nation and the world -- spurred a local petition to recall Police Chief Cynthia Renaud that had garnered 18,695 signatures as midnight Tuesday ("Petition Circulates to Recall Santa Monica Police Chief After Rampant Looting," June 1, 2020).

On Monday, hundreds of volunteers descended on the city's Downtown armed with brooms and tools to clean up in the aftermath -- picking up trash and empty boxes and sweeping broken glass from the sidewalks.

"People came together," Rand said. "It was a pretty beautiful thing."

A curfew was put in place, public transit was suspended and freeway exits closed, as 130 National Guard troops helped maintain peace in the raavaged city.

"We continue to grieve for the losses to our businesses and neighborhoods on Sunday," said Mayor Kevin McKeown, "and we continue to be outraged over the death of George Floyd and the unacceptable persistence of institutional racism.

"Nonetheless, on Monday we showed that we can learn from tragedy, get back up, and commit ourselves to a better city."

Before dawn on Monday, a City Public Works team cleaned streets and sidewalks and removed graffiti, officials said. There were 84 reports of graffiti recorded Monday, they said.

The damage to some businesses was extensive and the looters were indiscriminate in their targets -- tearing through plywood and smashing windows at chain stores, small businesses and even a bank.

Many of the businesses were reopening after being shut down for two and a half months during the coronavirus emergency.

It is unclear how long the affected businesses will be set back by Sunday's damage, most of which took place Downtown, according to officials with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM).

In a statement Monday, DTSM Inc. said it "recognizes this will be an ongoing effort to rebuild from the impacts of this weekend’s events and is working closely with business owners to assess the damage and take necessary precautions to secure downtown businesses."

Most of ground-floor retail in the City's Central Business District likely sustained damage, said Kathleen Rawson, the agency's CEO, adding that the dmage along Fourth Street was "excruciatingly bad."

“What happened to our community was truly devastating," Rawson said. "The peaceful protests taking place were overshadowed as our home was taken over by destruction and civil disobedience.

“Together with our residents, businesses and property owners, we have created one of the most beautiful, lively and welcoming downtowns in the world," she said in a statement.

"And in that same spirit of collaboration, we will recover and rebuild our neighborhood. We are in this together, we are Santa Monica.”

Rand agrees. "The city is going to get through this, I have no doubt," he said

"Santa Monica is going to bounce back," Rand said. "It's going to be stronger than ever."


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