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Two of L.A.’s hippest streets — Melrose and Fairfax — become targets for looters

Two women hug Saturday on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles
Anticipating their arrest, two women hug each other Saturday on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As darkness fell on Los Angeles Saturday night, two of the city’s most famous retail strips — Melrose and Fairfax avenues — became a focus for looting and vandalism.

Several businesses on Melrose Avenue, a trendy row of design and clothing stores, were looted. One building was set on fire and burned for hours.

Dozens of looters ran into an Adidas store on Melrose and Edinburgh avenues at 9:45 p.m., running out with blue boxes of shoes. Empty shoe boxes and glass littered the sidewalk outside the store.

Cars honked as the looting continued.

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Two men stood across the street watching the scene unfold together.

“It’s horrible. They need any excuse just to take something,” said Mel, a 39-year-old Compton resident who would provide only his first name.

Mel said he came to the area to witness this part of the country’s history.

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“It’s going to be in the news,” he said. “It’s going to be like the Watts riots. I wasn’t really alive for it, but I was alive for this one. I’ll tell my kids and family members what happened.”

Mariana Solaris, 20, of San Bernardino was walking along Melrose when police fired foam pellets. “I came out peacefully to show my support, and the police are aiming right at me. To feel and experience it for myself — to have to run — I’m still shivering.

“I saw this on the news earlier tonight, and I thought, ‘No way is it really like that out there with the police.’ So I came out to see. And, yeah, it’s really like that.”

“Sometimes peaceful is not enough,” said Alexis Equihua, 20, who was marching along Melrose at 11 p.m., as rioters destroyed storefronts and stole goods. “I’m not one of the people vandalizing, but honestly, I get it. They feel like actions speak louder than words.”

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Numerous stores were also vandalized on Fairfax Avenue, which has become a streetwear haven. Protesters set fires in the street.

After three days of protests, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has requested state troops and imposed a citywide curfew to quell looting, vandalism and violence.

Travon Walton, a 25-year-old student from Long Beach, arrived in the Fairfax area in the afternoon to join the protests.

He said that he saw many nonblack protesters inciting the police from up close and worries that the black community will receive the blame.

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“All the white people are in the front,” he said. “We’re going to be the ones that get the backlash.”

This was his first protest, and he planned to leave after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.

“We thought we’d just come out here to have a peaceful protest,” he said, “but as you can see it’s not that at all.”

In front of Shorty’s Barber Shop on Fairfax Avenue, a group of hooting protesters lit a dumpster on fire just after 10 p.m. and then moved it into the middle of the street.

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A fire burning inside it quickly grew larger. A female protester posed for a photo in front of the dumpster while others bearing cardboard signs watched the flames from the sidewalk.


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