On May 30, one of the most devastating moments in the history of the City of Beverly Hills occurred when 100 businesses were vandalized after a peaceful protest sparked civil unrest. In the days that followed, some 200 barricades went up throughout the City and hundreds of businesses boarded up. Almost immediately the following day, the City was virtually cleaned of all traces of the thousands of protestors, and rioters, with around 600 incidences of graffiti removed from public property.
“Most of the civil unrest that’s been going on have been peaceful protests honoring the life of George Floyd.
However, that particular evening, there was a lot of damage and destruction that did happen,” Director of Community Services Jenny Rogers said, noting that six public works of art had been vandalized, including Ringo Starr’s “Peace & Love” sculpture.
“To see our artwork degraded like that, it was so upsetting. And for it to be put back to normal was so important,” said Arts and Culture Commission Chair Stephanie Vahn. Other vandalized public art works included: Barry Flanagan’s “The Drummer,” Tom Friedman’s “The Takeaway,” Robert Graham’s “Torso,” Roxy Paine’s “Erratic,” and Tony Smith’s “Playground.”
While art conservators and restoration workers began the process of cleaning up the works of art that had been defaced on Sunday morning, Public Works worked from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 31 to address all the public facilities that had been defaced.
“It was just a lot of anger toward established organizations like the police station or wealth. There was a lot of bad words,” Director of Public Works Shana Epstein told the Courier. After addressing public property, including City Hall, Epstein said staff likewise remove graffiti from roughly 30 businesses by pressure washing the graffiti or painting over it.
The majority of private businesses proactively took measures to clean up, despite that fact that the City would provide the service for free. In addition, all businesses that did board up chose to do so independently, although the City did make recommendations.
Xi’an owner Vicky Mense recalled the ferocity of the looters who took to plundering the adjacent restaurant, Caffé Roma. At the time, around 7 p.m., Mense said her restaurant staff was just finishing cleaning up after having finished the final take-out orders before the 8 p.m. curfew.
“If I were closing 15 minutes earlier, I would have been looted,” she told the Courier. “It was ‘Wild Wild West.’ It was a scary rude awakening call.”
Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Johnson underscored how quickly businesses reacted by proactively choosing to board up in the face of the civil unrest.
“After what happened the first day we were not sure if there were going to be protests or what was going to happen so as a measure of precaution everybody agreed to board up,” Rodeo Drive Committee President Nicola Cagliata told the Courier. On June 10, the barricades along Rodeo Drive were removed and by Thursday morning most of the 75 retailers on the street were once again open.
“Most businesses will be open if not this weekend, then by Monday,” Johnson told the Courier. “Now we can start building. I think we can be a much stronger community”
To date, no additional instances of graffiti have been observed in the City. Residents who do notice instances of graffiti can call 310-285-2467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to facilitate its removal.