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Following Chaotic Night In LA, Strangers Come Together To Start The Cleanup

A crew of good Samaritans help clean up at Von Dutch on Melrose and Sierra Bonita following a night of looting and vandalism. (Megan Larson/LAist)
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It was a sleepless night for many Angelenos, after protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent last night, as police clashed with people in the streets, and businesses in various parts of the city were looted and vandalized.

One of the impacted areas was Melrose Avenue, where storefronts along the famed thoroughfare are marked by broken windows and graffiti. Onlookers, nearby residents, and shop-owners surveyed the damage Sunday morning.

Miles Guidon is the owner of Hollywood 3D Printing on Melrose Avenue. His shop, whose clients include the film industry, were hit late last night. He was in Las Vegas on Saturday, but was monitoring his shop via surveillance cameras installed inside.

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"I was watching the news at 4 p.m." Guidon says. "I didn't see much until around 11:30 p.m., when the frosted white window shattered and a guy came in through it."

Others followed suit, "kicking and damaging things" and ransacking one of the offices. Guidon said they did not take anything of commercial value.

"I feel very disappointed. Last night I felt I was violated."

Miles Guidon stands in front of Hollywood 3D Printing, which was vandalized Saturday night. (Fiona Ng/LAist)

A few blocks west, Gaurav Nanda was taking pictures of the indoor and outdoor furniture shop, Bend Goods, as his employees swept up broken glass along the street. The storefront's many windows were tagged, and one was broken.

"They broke through the glass and stole a whole bunch of furniture. We had a huge, 10-foot orange sofa that they took out the window. They took computers," Nanda says.

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On Saturday, he was watching events unfold on the news. One of his friends lived across the street from his shop and was sending videos updating him on the situation on Melrose. At around 10 p.m., he got word that his store had been broken into.

"I am glad my employees are fine and we are safe. It's just furniture. It's just materialistic things. It's sad what's happening in this world," says Nanda. "I am not angry at the protesters. I am angry at the looters. There were peaceful protesters yesterday and there were looters -- they were different people. The looters are not protesters."

Gaurav Nanda stands in front of his furniture store, Bend Goods, which was looted Saturday night. (Fiona Ng/LAist)

Besides curiosity-seekers, there were many good Samaritans who woke up in the morning and decided to help out.

Danielle Hixon lives in the area. She couldn't sleep after seeing the city that she's known and loved crippled by violence. So she got up at 6 a.m., put on some gloves, grabbed her broom and went to work on Melrose.

"I agreed with the protests. I don't care about the big corporations, the CVS, the Targets. But all these mom-and-pops -- I am not okay with the destruction of these small, locally owned shops. They were already hurting from the coronavirus."

Someone snapped a photo of Hixon helping to clean up and posted it on Twitter. Emily Juarez, who lives in Hollywood, saw the tweet, alerted her friend Freddy Salazar and they both headed down to join Hixon.

(L to R) Mindy Howland, Emily Juarez, Freddy Salazar and Danielle Hixon met and became friends while helping shops along Melrose Ave clean up after the protests that occurred in the area on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Fiona Ng/LAist)

"I just woke up early and went to Home Depot to buy some stuff and came down," said Salazar, who lives in South Central.

There, the three erstwhile strangers met Mindy Howland.

"I met everyone here when we worked together to put a store back together," Howland says.

The four aren't the only ones who came to Melrose to put the city back together.

Jihan Zencirli and Christopher Sullivan put out an ask on Instagram for volunteers to join them this morning. The results? Fifteen people showed up at Cantor's at 9am.

"We want to clean some stuff up and show the city that we care. Even though yesterday was necessary, we still love our city and want to go clean it up," says Sullivan.

Jihan Zencirli and Christopher Sullivan. (Fiona Ng/LAist)