|A demonstrator in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles raises his fist and shouts during a protest on Tuesday over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)|
Koreans in fear over widespread looting
By Jane Han
LOS ANGELES ― Nights are long these days for many Koreans in every corner of the U.S.
Rioting and looting have become nightly events in major cities and small towns alike, and Korean mom-and-pop stores are just some of the countless businesses that continue to get ransacked, robbed and destroyed by angry mobs all across the nation.
"This is just like the LA riots all over again," said Nancy Kim, 44, who owns a clothing shop near Koreatown in Los Angeles. "I was only 16 when the riots happened here, but I still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the horrifying scenes. I can't believe almost 30 years later, we're doing this all over again."
Kim has decided to shut her store, like many other businesses, for a couple days until the unrest subsides. But even at home, she has to deal constantly with the anxiety over fear that looters may break in any minute.
"I can't sleep at night because I'm constantly watching the surveillance video," she said, stressing that she is all for solidarity against racism. "I just didn't see this happening to my business and my life as a side effect."
Protests against police killings of black lives continued into their eighth day Tuesday from Los Angeles to New York. While daytime rallies remain peaceful for the most part, violence often erupts when the sun sets.
Many believe that protesters and looters are two different crowds with different intentions, therefore shouldn't be grouped together.
|Richard Hooks leads demonstrators as they march on Tuesday in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)|
The scope of the damage done by vandals may take weeks ―and even months ― to assess fully, experts say. But as far as Korean businesses go, 79 reports of damage have been made so far to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as of Monday. The actual number is expected to be much higher.
Various online communities among Korean residents in the U.S. reflect the desperation, fear and frustration.
"My store is being robbed," reads one post, where the writer asks for urgent help while stating that her beauty supply business on the border between Illinois and Indiana is being attacked.
"It's been forever since I called the police but no one is showing up. I'm looking at the surveillance camera from home and I can't believe what I'm seeing with my eyes.
"My entire family sweat blood to come this far. Why is this happening to us? What did we do wrong?
"I thought I had good customers and great neighbors. It's shocking to see that I'm seeing those familiar faces robbing my store. I'm speechless."
Police have been late showing up to emergency calls on looting as most law enforcement officers are dispatched to demonstration sites.
Another beauty supply business owner wrote on MissyUSA, the largest online community for Korean women in the U.S, that her store was also robbed and torn apart at 2 a.m.
"Everything happened in a matter of minutes. They were so fast and so organized," she wrote, explaining that she also had to endure the pain of watching everything unfold via surveillance video from home.
Another user, who runs a fine jewelry business, said her losses easily amount to a couple millions dollars.
"My husband fled to the store the second the alarm went off," the user said. "He witnessed everything with his eyes. That's what breaks my heart. I can't even bring myself to watch the surveillance recording."
While those who have been attacked are dealing with the aftermath, those who've been safe so far are dealing with the fear of not knowing when they'll be next.
"I can't live like this," said Julie Chung, 54, who runs a deli in downtown Chicago. "It's the anxiety that is killing me every day. Being a business owner in the U.S. is the worst place to be now."
Major retailers including Target, Walmart and Nordstrom, grocery chains, and high-end stores like Chanel, Apple and Rolex are grappling with the same concern over destruction and many stores have boarded up windows and closed early to protect workers.
U.S. President Donald Trump vowed Monday to end riots with federal forces, but nationwide mass gatherings are expected to continue.