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LA MESA, Calif. — Three days after a peaceful protest against police brutality devolved into a rampage of looting and arson, La Mesa business owners continued cleaning up and trying to understand what had happened in their small town.

Amethyst Moon Boutique was one of the businesses damaged Saturday night when rioters smashed store windows and stole whatever they could get their hands on.

“I got a call that City Tacos was getting vandalized and that’s when I knew they were going to get me and I was devastated,” said Amethyst owner Theresa Favro.

When the dust settled, two banks and a historic office building had burned to the ground. Dozens of businesses were damaged, with graffiti on the walls and broken glass on the ground.

“We all wanted to support the protest and we’re all in favor of that, absolutely, but the destruction is heartbreaking,” Favro said.

She counts herself one of the lucky ones. Her storefront windows were smashed, but neighboring business owners stepped up to protect her shop from looters. Right across the street, Pierre’s Jewelers was not so lucky.  The owner could do nothing but watch as the business his family has owned for 40 years was looted and destroyed. Tuesday, it remained boarded up and closed.

“We were watching it all live on Facebook and it was devastating because it’s such a tight community and it just broke my heart. It was very scary,” Favfro said.

But business owners have been able to count on community support. Up and down La Mesa Boulevard, they have posted signs of inspiration and support. Flyers posted on every closed up business offer help from complete strangers, and artists are painting beautiful images of peace and remembrance in the areas hardest hit by rioting.

“We’ll just have to keep moving forward. I’ve been in business for 30 years. This is the worst thing that’s happened,” Favfro said. “Like I said, I’m very grateful that it wasn’t worse.”