Looters smash windows, steal items during Anaheim protests
July 25, 2012 | 11:01
Broken glass and boarded windows could be seen Wednesday at businesses near Anaheim City Hall, after a night of protests that rocked the already-tense Orange County city.
Christine Sim, 51, and her husband own a T-shirt shop in a strip mall near City Hall. Her family was outside the shop Wednesday morning, sweeping up glass as a repairman carefully removed shards from a broken window.
Looters smashed a front window Tuesday night and grabbed pants and sunglasses from shelves within arms' reach.
"I just came here and all my property and my business is damaged," Sim said, speaking in Korean as her daughter translated. "I didn't do anything wrong. Why did my things have to be vandalized?"
Triggered by two fatal police shootings over the weekend, Tuesday's demonstrations resulted in 24 arrests, authorities said. Six people — three protesters, two journalists and one police officer — were injured.
The demonstrations began peacefully outside a City Council meeting but soon spread to parts of downtown Anaheim, where some set fire to trash cans and weeds and threw rocks at police. In response, police gave an order to disperse. Officers were seen firing bean bags and pushing people out of the streets.
At one point during the night, patrons at a Starbucks on Anaheim Boulevard near City Hall hid behind chairs under a counter as crowds swarmed outside. Customers there Wednesday morning said furniture had been thrown through the windows, which is why they were covered with plywood.
Gaylein Ford, 41, said she goes to the Starbucks every morning and refers to many of the young workers as her "kids."
"These are just kids working here to pay for college and to live," she said. "And next thing they know, this group of thugs throws furniture through the window."
She described the scene as "surreal."
"This is my community," she said. "And to have this happen here is shocking."
Another patron, 27-year-old Nirvan Nassiri, said he understood why people were upset after the shootings but didn't think the violence was necessary. He saw trash can fires and heard the sounds of rubber bullets Tuesday night at his apartment complex just a few blocks away.
"I don't think people should act like this," he said. "It's foolish."
Sim, the T-shirt shop owner, said she and her husband aren't going to replace the glass broken Tuesday night because they are afraid the protests will continue.
Her eyes teared up as she surveyed the damage.
"We have been here in this neighborhood, working here for a long time. We have done nothing bad in the community," she said. "I just can't understand why this happened to us."
"I understand why they have to demonstrate," she continued. "But I don't understand why they have to do this."
— Christine Mai-Duc in Anaheim and Kate Mather in Los Angeles
Photo: Vons grocery store employees in Anaheim stand inside the store Tuesday night, keeping customers out after rioters broke the glass doors at the intersection of Anaheim and Lincoln boulevards. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times