Hollywood Local News West Hollywood

After looting, city places curfew on residents, businesses

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city spent a third consecutive night under curfew June 2 after becoming one of the region’s hotspots for rioting and looting overnight May 30.

City officials ordered business to close and residents to stay home from 4 p.m. to sunrise June 3. Similar curfews were imposed May 31 and June 1.

The curfew order states: “No person shall be upon the public street, avenue, alley, park, or other public place or unimproved public realty.” This curfew will remain in effect on a daily basis from 4 p.m. until sunrise until such time as it is lifted, a city spokesperson said.

On the evening of May 30, fireworks exploded in the street, dozens of police officers swarmed from one flashpoint to another and masked thieves made off with sneakers, skirts and other merchandise from proudly upscale establishments.

Melrose Avenue was the hotspot of the unrest. One person threw a rectangular box onto Melrose Avenue, which was promptly run over by a vehicle, briefly snarling traffic.

As of midnight, deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station had arrested eight people for looting, according to Sgt. Gabriel Akchyan, of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

Shelton Hairston, the CEO of Enigma Brands clutched his Desert Eagle semi-automatic handgun as he tried to protect what was left of his property on the north side of Melrose Avenue west of Fairfax Avenue.

“I’ll tell you right now, it’s the cops’ fault that this happened to us,” he said from beside a monogrammed chair barricading the entrance, referring to the smashed-out window and other damage.

“We’re dealing with the repercussions of someone else’s actions against our own people, and our people can’t differentiate between what is ours and what is theirs, in the middle of what is usually on the side … of corporate America.”

The rioting and looting began as people protested police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a man killed May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer who kneed on his throat for eight minutes while other officers watched. 

While Hairston said he understood why the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer resonated locally, he suggested many of the rioters had misplaced their anger.

“I don’t feel no way about it,” he said, thinking about the vandalism at his shop. “The kids that actually did it were white kids — we got ’em on video.”

Hairston had a “black owned” sign up in the window, which elicited positive reactions from some of those passing by in violation of the curfew.

“So, at the end of the day it’s just foolishness and unruliness … that has no real motive or any real premise behind it,” he said. “It’s just using a platform of Black Lives Matter — this man who lost his life — they’re just using that platform as a reason to be radical.”

Hairston said he hopes people will be more focused on working out their frustrations with police injustices.

“Bring the war to the right people,” he said. “If you’ve got a problem with somebody, bring it to the person you have a problem with.”

Less than a mile west, Sarah Haugen, the owner of the organic restaurant Vitalist, stood outside her business — which had been spared as of 9:30 p.m. May 30.

“I just don’t want it to be broken or tagged, so I think it’s wise for me to stand here,” she said, adding she wasn’t afraid for her personal safety. “If that happens then I guess it does, but I don’t think that’s what this is about.

“I think injustice has happened, and people were locked up in their homes for a long period of time, and then … went crazy. You can’t mistreat people and not expect the world to go into an uproar.”

Haugen stood in place until police formed a line across Melrose Avenue and began advancing eastward toward Fairfax, shouting “Clear the area!”When the officers — about a dozen or more — reached Vitalist, the entire line paused, as one of the authorities spoke to Haugen for a moment. Then, she disappeared indoors.

Independent Wire Services