LA MESA, Calif. – This weekend marks one year since rioting and looting broke out in the city of La Mesa.
It started as a demonstration for justice after George Floyd’s death. A local man, Amaurie Johnson, had also recently detained by police. The gathering later turned violent, affecting dozens of businesses city-wide with some burning to the ground.
“Once we heard what was happening, a lot of us came into the store near the end of the night to see what had happened. It was devastating,” John Flores said.
Flores works at Play It Again Sports in the La Mesa Springs shopping center, one of the areas that saw several businesses damaged and looted.
“To see it in the state that it was in, it was rough. There was a fire, so there was smoke inside the store, glass all over the floor,” Flores said.
Flores has been with the local sporting goods store since it opened about two years ago and couldn’t believe the destruction that night. He says about 80% of the store’s inventory was lost to theft or damage.
“Bikes that hang from the ceiling, they got them all down. Usually you have to have a ladder. Amid the chaos, I was surprised they were able to do that.”
Play It Again Sports was closed for about three months during an already tough time due to the pandemic. The community rallied behind the shop.
Boards covering shattered windows were painted with bright colors and positive messages and now hang in the store as a reminder. Strangers came to help clean up, new windows and doors were donated, and inventory soon grew again.
“You’ll never forget about it because it’s not too often that something like that happens. We’re grateful to be here, the community really comes out,” said Flores.
Thousands of dollars were donated to businesses in La Mesa, including Play It Again Sports, with a lot of equipment and gear also donated after the looting. When the store did eventually re-open, it had a record day.