Nearly two dozen La Mesa businesses that were targeted by looters and vandals during civil unrest back in May were presented with final relief checks on Tuesday.
The La Mesa Disaster Recovery Fund gave 23 local businesses $3,750 as part of its second phase of the city’s recovery effort. The first phase involved 35 businesses receiving $5,000in relief distribution. Twelve businesses denied the second check and asked if their share of the funds could be given to business owners still in need.
The businesses that received the funds verified they suffered looting or physical damage the weekend of May 30, when vandals and looters took advantage of the clash between racial justice protesters and police officers.
A protest over that weekend was held to call for justice in the killing of George Floyd and to demand repercussions for an officer involved in the controversial arrest of Amaurie Johnson, who had been waiting outside a luxury apartment for his friends when a La Mesa police officer approached him in late May. La Mesa last week announced that officer, who was identified as Matt Dages, was no longer employed by the city.
Steve Clay, who's owned the Postal Annex off La Mesa Boulevard for the past 17 years, recounted seeing his business targeted by the looters. He told NBC 7 that the looters destroyed his camera system, hard drive and spent about 40 minutes going through his store as they destroyed everything.
“It was pretty devastating. It’s something that I did not want to see and I never want to see it again," Clay told NBC 7. "The next day, of course, people showed up to help clean up everything. It was the outpour of the community that was just unbelievable."
Representatives of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and East County Economic Development Council, presented the checks to the impacted businesses.