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LA Protests Over George Floyd's Death May Interfere With Businesses Reopening


Violent protests across Los Angeles this weekend are a setback for the city's small business owners. Many of them had planned to reopen this week after the county announced it would lift coronavirus-related restrictions. Here's NPR's Arezou Rezvani.

AREZOU REZVANI, BYLINE: Standing on broken glass, right as curfew broke at dawn, Sean Nasseri stared into his ransacked tech store, which he's owned for 18 years.

SEAN NASSERI: Yeah, it's depressing, honestly. Most of it is pretty much gone.

REZVANI: The night before, his alarm company called, detecting a break-in. Then on live TV, he watched looters run out of his shop, their arms full of his electronics. He called the police.

NASSERI: They pretty much told us that this was a no-response zone, unless there's a fire or someone being hurt - that they weren't going to respond. So then we just saw the building being set on fire.

REZVANI: A few shops down, Ryan Liebowitz was picking up the pieces of his family-owned comic book store. He closed for a couple of months because of coronavirus restrictions and was planning to reopen today.

RYAN LIEBOWITZ: We're small business owners. To hurt us after a two-month, you know, pandemic, that's just adding insult to injury.

LAURA PARKENING: I mean, I'm trying to have compassion for people's rage. And it's hard when you feel like you're a victim of that, and your business is a casualty of that.

REZVANI: That's Laura Parkening. She spent her morning cleaning up her brand-new coffee shop. She says the vandalism has delayed her opening and tested her empathy.

PARKENING: It's harder to have compassion for that movement, which I do have. But when I'm filling out insurance forms and cleaning up my work site and having a setback that yet again - to us opening, you know, that makes it a more complicated topic.

REZVANI: Complicated because the protests, the curfews, the boarded-up storefronts mean that for many small business owners, the economic recovery continues to be on hold. For NPR News, I'm Arezou Rezvani. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Arezou Rezvani is a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition and founding editor of Up First, NPR's daily news podcast.