Zenda Mitchell Abbott walked through her neighborhood in the Fairfax District Monday after outbursts of vandalism and violence over the weekend left streets and shops in disrepair.
“I was crying because I go for a walk every morning,” Abbott said. “And when I walk across Third Street and Fairfax and Melrose, the visual representation of what I saw was what I feel internally every day I walk out of the house. That’s the visual representation of what I feel when you have to put on a suit of armor in order to go out into the world.”
She expressed sympathy for business owners whose storefronts were looted, but Abbott said she did not lay the blame on looters and protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, another black man who died at the hands of police.
Instead, Abbott wished she had done more in the past.
“I didn’t speak up 20 years ago when I got my bachelor’s degree, when I got my master’s degree, when I got my doctorate,” Abbott said.
She urged others to “say something and do something. Don’t be so worried about what it’s going to look like, or your career. And, you know, Colin Kaepernick, when he took a knee, he was greater than I.”
Abbott added, “The looters, as horrible as they think, wouldn’t exist if I had said something. So today marks the first day that I’m going to say something.”
Police clash with civilians across L.A. area
Southern Californians from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica woke up to major streets strewn with debris from shattered storefronts Monday.
Many of them, including those who protested during the weekend, picked up brooms to clean up.
The Fairfax District took the brunt of damages Saturday as some people looted and vandalized businesses during demonstrations that fanned out from the Pan Pacific Park onto The Grove, Melrose Avenue and nearby streets.
A cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Cullors, described two hours of peaceful protests that she said were disturbed when “police came out and started shooting rubber bullets and gassing people.”
LAPD officers, clad in protective gear, began to form a skirmish line when a number of people climbed a graffitied Metro bus near Third Street and Fairfax Avenue.
Police in the area were seen using batons and shooting projectiles, which the Associated Press and a protester described as rubber bullets.
“You shoot rubber bullets. You shoot tear gas into a crowd … and how am I supposed to react?” said a protester who did not provide his name.
At an intersection nearby, civilians smashed the windows of a police vehicle, spray-painted it and set it on fire. At The Grove, a police booth went up into flames.
On the Melrose strip, some looters broke into retail stores. Many had been boarded up by the next day, one bearing the message: “STORE EMPTY, Nothing Left.”
On Monday, Abbott reflected on a poster taped to a vandalized wall. It identified the owner of a business as a black man.
“I was in the middle of crying because this young brother right here, this black-owned business, Mr. Mitchell… if I had of spoken up 20 years ago, instead of worrying about my retirement or worrying about my job or what people had to say, this brother wouldn’t have had to go through this.”