Businesses board up in Downtown Long Beach ahead of Election Day 2020


Karla M. Enriquez | Signal Tribune

Workers board up stores at The Pike Outlet one day ahead of Election Day 2020.

Major corporate businesses in Downtown Long Beach and a few small businesses began the process of boarding up their locations ahead of Election Day 2020.

A quick drive around The Pike Outlets on Pine Avenue and The Promenade in Downtown Long Beach show windows covered with walls of plywood, some painted with artwork, others bare.

Stores like Forever 21 at the Pike Outlet were already boarded up the afternoon before Election Day 2020. (Karla M. Enriquez | Signal Tribune)

Stores like Forever 21 and Guess at The Pike, who were impacted during the looting that took place on May 31, separate from the peaceful demonstrations protesting the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, had their windows shuttered with plywood. Stores like H&M were beginning the process on Monday afternoon, a day before the election.

For Jean Machine, a shoe and apparel store that is a community staple, located in the City Place Shopping Center on 4th Street, boarding up was not an option.

“So this time we’re gonna do it different ways because last time when we boarded, we spent about $4,000 a little bit more, and it took us seven hours to board up the store and in five minutes they brought the whole thing down, it was shocking,” Sam Kasfy, owner of Jean Machine said of the looting that took place on May 31.

See Related: Peaceful protest against police brutality interfered with by multiple police forces and ill-intended looters

Jean Machine saw its windows shattered and the store ransacked on that day, joining the list of hundreds of businesses with a similar fate.

Since then, the Long Beach Police Department has started the Looting Task Force to conduct “criminal investigations for significant crimes during the civil unrest in late May.”

As of Oct. 28, LBPD announced it has made 45 arrests since June 1 for alleged looting and obtained 54 arrest warrants, with 56 additional cases submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney or City Prosecutor. The announcement also stated that 30 vehicles had been impounded and 32 search warrants had been served.

The suspects who are listed in the LBPD report, who have been arrested and charged, come from Long Beach and nearby cities such as Carson, Bellflower, Hawthorne, Hawaiian Gardens and the City of Los Angeles.

See Related:LBPD’s Looting Task Force arrests 45 since June 1

According to Kasfy, Jean Machine will most likely not turn up a profit this year, but won’t know the total in damages until the end of the year.

“We were closed for two months due to COVID, and then we were open for three weeks, we were doing curbside, and then we were shut down for three months. The whole year is a total loss,” Kasfy said.

At the Promenade in Downtown Long Beach, stores like Ross, located across from Jean Machine, were already boarded up the afternoon before Election Day 2020. (Karla M. Enriquez | Signal Tribune )

To prepare for one of the most decisive election nights in recent history at a time where tensions are high and the general population is grappling with the effects of the pandemic, Kasfy thought of ways to protect his store in case of civil unrest.

“So this time we’re going to empty the store,” Kasfy said to the Signal Tribune. “We’re going to put two armed guards outside to keep an eye on the store, make sure nobody breaks the windows, nobody comes in.”

Kasfy, whose store is surrounded by boarded-up shops, like Ross and Game Stop, is hoping for the best, and hoping nothing happens on election night.

“[We’re] going to try our best,” Kasfy said hopefully.

According to City News Service, Long Beach Police Department Chief Robert Luna said in an online community meeting on Monday night that although there is no credible threat in the area, his department has been on stage two tactical alert since Saturday in order to maximize its level of employees in the field for Election Day. He also stated that his department has shifted to 12-hour shifts with more officers working.

“You may ask, well, why are you getting prepared? I think if I were to see a show of hands of anybody whose anxiety is up because of this election, I think almost every hand would go up. We are not ignorant to that fact and we know that people are afraid,” Luna said.

Around The Pike, workers gathered their materials to continue boarding up stores the afternoon before Election Day 2020. (Karla M. Enriquez | Signal Tribune)

City News Service contributed to this article.