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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.