LA MESA, Calif. – It has been a tough month for businesses damaged by last months riot in La Mesa, but Tuesday definitely felt like a step toward healing.
“It’s going to be a good day,” said La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mary England.
England held 27 envelopes in her hand as she walked around a downtown shopping complex. Each envelope held a check for $5,000 destined for a small business owner.
“I was thrilled and very surprised,” said Chintu Patel, owner of Menchie’s, an ice cream shop, when she opened her envelope. “I’ve never seen a community like this. I was surprised.”
The money was collected as donations to help the many businesses that were damaged during rioting and looting on May 30. The destruction happened after a large demonstration protesting the police killing of George Floyd turned violent and destructive. After the sun went down, crowds poured into a shopping complex, looting and vandalizing dozens of businesses. To help business make repairs and get back on their feet, the Chamber of Commerce started a GoFundMe
All but one of the businesses owners took the check Tuesday, but the owner of Albert’s Mexican Grill told the chamber representative, “I’d like to give the check back.”
Albert Garzon who owns the restaurant, said his business has been fortunate and hasn’t had to close down over the last three months. He said he wants his check to go to a bar or winery that is being forced to close down July 1 because of a new county order.
“I told myself I couldn’t imagine being in those shoes, let alone opening and buying inventory and then to close down again,” Garzon said. “That just made my decision really easy.”