‘La Mesa Strong’ Replaces Suffering as Thousands Join the Cleanup Effort | Instant News

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Verras Gray from La Mesa has devoted his life Birth Aviation Insurance Services. Over the weekend, he is willing to take risks.

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With bats and golf clubs, he is ready to protect his shop above Hoffer Cigar Bar from around young people spreading chaos Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“We will not let them burn our buildings,” said Gray, 54, whose business is in downtown La Mesa. “They must hurt us to do that.”

A volunteer painted protesters at the La Mesa Springs Shopping Center, where the looting and vandalism occurred Saturday night. Photo by Chris Stone

After joining in making nine 911 calls, but with the number of La Mesa police outnumbered, Gray was left with a protective man from cigars and beer to defend the building on La Mesa Boulevard.

He claimed to be “terrified” when he saw adjacent Union and Chase branches burning. But when looters threaten, they retreat.

“They came and said: ‘I have respect for a woman who will keep her business,'” he recalled.

La Mesans is gentle and also a heavy Sunday because thousands flooded into the worst affected areas, carrying brooms, pans, dozens of boxes of pizza and countless bottles of water – which can be found throughout The Village’s commercial district.

Mayor Mark Arapostathis, walking around La Mesa Springs Shopping Center at 45 minutes of sleep, moved by a “fully organic” effort to remove the scar that night.

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“People wake up and see (needs),” he said. “And besides cleaning up, their presence here has provided relief for businesses that are on fire.”

Just a few steps from the entrance to Vons, looted after protests from most peaceful police stations at the nearby Civic Center, “Dr. A” as he knew in the city of 60,000 said riots were the worst thing that happened to him since his father died when he was aged 6 years.

But speaking of arsonists, longtime educators say: “Their crime has been erased by the love of La Mesa that came out. … This is the original La Mesa, La Mesa who cares … Very devastating. But this here is hopeful and this is a step towards correct. “

Arapostathis has been on a tour of the destruction of his city since dawn, around 6:15 in the morning, when he met the good Samaritan who asked for help. They began to repair, paint and clean.

“They only attend to business owners … some have lost so much,” he told CBS8 San Diego. That despair turned into hope, he said.

Signs of hope and help are everywhere on Sunday during the four-hour tour by the Times of San Diego – ahead of 7 pm. until 7 pm the entire city curfew.

Ron Delaney from Jamul and his wife, Laurie, brought a long piece of wood with a statement of support attached. They invited people to sign a bar the size of a fence. Several hundred do it.

“Thugs who do this won’t win,” said the contractor who sometimes works in La Mesa. “We just need to stand together in love.”

Katie Quijada from La Mesa arrived at the center of La Mesa Springs around 9 am with a broom and other equipment. He offers spritzes from Germ-X ​​hand sanitizer bottles to anyone who needs them.

Caryn Christensen from Lakeside helped Roundtable Pizza distribute donations. “I just came in and started helping to serve,” he said. “Trying to be good.”

Zed Hill, pastor of the Stone Church pastor in El Cajon, said 50-60 congregations gathered at the Vons center. “We are a church that is doing something,” he said. “Always want to be the solution to this problem.”

Julio Audelo of the Anchor Church in San Diego led a prayer across the street from Randall Lamb. They also sang “God bless America.” [A member of Bugles Across America, a native La Mesan who gave only his first name, Frank, later played taps nearby.]

Meakalia Gilman, 16, and Grossmont High School classmate Sofia Kruse, 15, worked on a chalk message – “La Mesa Love Heals” – near the burning Randall Lamb building on Palm Avenue. “We’re just trying to do what we can,” Meakalia said.

Said Sofia, who lived a few blocks away: “We could hear police sirens all night, and … smell smoke. That was terrible. I kind of just wanted to make others feel (a little better).

They did their work near the alley where the side of the building – with broken windows – had a strong LA MESA message covering graffiti.

That becomes a name new Facebook group aimed at connecting businesses that need help with those who are interested in coming to help them. “Volunteer Revitalization Group” has more than 1,000 members within 12 hours.

Keri Crown is one of the administrators of the La Mesa Strong Facebook group. He said more than a thousand people came on Sunday to help clean up.

And the drive GoFundMe – titled La Mesa Business Disaster Recovery – Aim to collect $ 50,000. That surpassed $ 56,000 on Sunday night through 729 donors.

Steve Clay, whose family has been in La Mesa since 1920, is the owner of a 17-year Postal Annex franchise south of Vons.

Vandals smashed windows and damaged computers – “obviously thousands of dollars,” he said. Thankfully the insurance will cover it.

“This is very grateful to the people who came out at 2 am,” Clay said, “[They] appeared with wood, saws, hammers [to] just do it, and help. “

Wendy Fenstermacher hugged her. Referring to destruction, he told him: “This is NOT what La Mesa is about.” He encircled his arms to receive the hundreds who had come to clear the debris. “This is about La Mesa.”

Phil Hoffman, owner of 12-year-old Hoffer’s Cigar Bar, said he didn’t come out the night before (“I won’t risk my life for that”) and didn’t know until Sunday morning that the tenant is keeping his popular hangout currently closed in the middle of COVID.

Like many other business owners, he plans to install a window to prevent a sequel. (That didn’t happen. The Sheriff’s deputies were present. Even federal Department of Homeland Security vehicles were seen on the road.)

“I don’t know how many perpetrators in this crowd, walk to see what happens,” he said, likening them to arsonists who like to check their work.

Deputy Mayor Bill Baber, who joined the mayor at the Vons inspection, said people protesting outside the police station at noon were part of a reasonable civil rights protest.

“They have the right to do it,” he said. “That’s not what happened last night. Last night there was a different criminal class.”

Gray insurance broker – the woman who holds a golf club – said that she was at Loews to buy a barbecue when clients started calling from New York and Miami, asking: “What happened in La Mesa?” He came “flying” to his business.

“I like what I do. And you cannot let them win, “he said.” We will not run away from this. “

Speaking to vandals, he said, “I could have slept when you released Molotov’s cocktail and killed me. You are a villain. We have registered in our window:” I can’t breathe. “But your message is now gone. It’s gone.”

He said his business represented every pension he had.

“It’s me,” he said. “And I will live and breathe that business. … I will have the last word, and it will not be their words.”

‘La Mesa Strong’ Replaces Suffering as Thousands Join the Cleanup Effort last modified: June 1, 2020 by Ken Stone

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