La Mesa

Residents Clean Up After Protests in La Mesa; Curfew Announced

Mayor of La Mesa, Mark Arapostathis confirmed to NBC 7 that the citywide curfew will be enacted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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The La Mesa community joined Sunday morning to help clean up La Mesa Village downtown after a night of looting and arson after tensions escalated Saturday between officers and demonstrators at the protests.

Mayor of La Mesa, Mark Arapostathis confirmed to NBC 7 that the citywide curfew will be enacted from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sunday.

"Clean up is what we are doing next. There are a lot of people who are helping clean up with brooms and dustpans, just cleaning up the street," said Caleb Serban-Lawler. "We have salvage coming up in a bit helping to clean up the bigger pieces of the two banks and a museum we lost."

Around 11:30 p.m., Saturday night the Chase Bank and the Union Bank on Spring Street were broken into and set on fire. By 7 a.m. Sunday morning they were still smoldering.

Chase Bank La Mesa
NBC 7, Steven Luke

Hours after these fires were set, federal investigators were at the scene trying to figure out what went wrong.

An East County coffeeshop put out a call out for help cleaning up downtown La Mesa early Sunday.

Hundreds of La Mesa residents arrived with brooms and paint, business owner Aaron Henderson said.

"They cleaned up in about an hour,'" Henderson said. "It was overwhelming to see this community come together."

All the graffiti was cleaned up and store windows were boarded up,
Henderson said.

The protest on Saturday was part of nationwide demonstrations over the weekend, following the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the controversial arrest of a black man by a white officer near a trolley stop in La Mesa.

As the evening progressed, protesters turned to some non-peaceful demonstrations. La Mesa City Hall was briefly on fire during the protest but the flames were quickly put out and no one appeared to be injured.

Multiple vehicles, including a Heartland Fire & Rescue vehicle, were also set on fire. Looters also broke into the Vons at the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center, Walmart at the Grossmont Center, and more.

Windows were smashed at many businesses, including a Goodwill store, a Sotheby’s real estate office, and a popular bar.

A curfew was also set on Sunday morning from 1:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. by order of the City Manager.

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob released the following statement on the protests:

“My heart aches. People are upset and angry, and their outrage is justified. Yesterday, as protests picked up in La Mesa, I asked that they be constructive, not destructive. I said we must work together peacefully to address issues of discrimination and bigotry.

But asking for peace is not enough. People want solutions. They deserve solutions. They don’t want promises. They want a meaningful path forward -- and they want the nation to dig deep and address the underlying problems of racism and unequal treatment under the law. Obviously, as a white woman, I can’t completely understand the depth of these issues, but I want to do everything I can to help. We must all be part of the solution.

The county Board of Supervisors, at the request of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, recently agreed to bring back its Human Relations Commission. That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s only one step. More is needed to address systemic, institutional racism.

I want to acknowledge and thank all those in law enforcement who live by the motto, ‘to protect and serve.’ They have a tough job right now. I want to recognize and thank the many La Mesa residents and others who have peacefully protested. I also want to thank the folks who have stepped up today to clean up La Mesa. The immediate outpouring of support is touching, and it sets the tone for how we need to come together to address these issues.”

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