Throughout Southern California, demonstrations against police brutality saw thousands of participants filling the streets of Hollywood, Highland Park, Downtown, Atwater Village, Koreatown, Manhattan Beach, and Simi Valley over the weekend. These massive protests began as a result of four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and continue to gain momentum throughout the country. After months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants that have just recently reopened their dining rooms are at the forefront to serve those seeking sustenance during the citywide protests.
The largest gathering was in Hollywood on Sunday — the Los Angeles Times reported 20,000 attendees while KTLA-5 estimated the number was closer to 50,000 — where demonstrators challenged police brutality against blacks and called for the defunding of the Los Angeles Police Department. As the protest made its way through Hollywood Boulevard, protesters stopped for a bite to eat at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele near Hollywood and Highland. After months of not having any sit-down dining because of coronavirus restrictions, owner Francesco Zimone welcomed the new customers.
“We had helicopters everywhere and rivers of people on the streets,” says owner Francesco Zimone. “Bikes and skaters started to come in looking for bathrooms and pizza, so we setup tables at the entrance and let people eat there. It was a wonderful moment of sharing love and being part of this.”
On Saturday in Highland Park, hundreds of protesters walked along Figueroa and York and past businesses like The Hermosillo, The York, and Goldburger. Goldburger owner Allen Yelent sold burgers from his blue storefront, setup a table on the street with bottles of free water, and eventually ran out of food.
“The protests came by two or three different times and were really grateful for the water,” says Yelent. “Since opening this location, I haven’t had any dining-in type of experience here. After the protest, people came back and sat in small groups on the street and the sidewalk. The experience was super positive.”
Six blocks away at Jugos Aztecas, staff said protesters walked directly in front of the longstanding restaurant and came in to purchase smoothies and fresh juice.
Marches also filtered throughout Downtown streets, including Spring Street and Fifth in front of LA Cafe. Street vendors were also present selling LA’s signature Los Angeles snack, the bacon-wrapped hot dog.
Not all protests were large in numbers. In sleepy Atwater Village, a small group of protesters led by a bagpipe player walked through Glendale Boulevard right in front of Dune, Bon Vivant Market and Cafe, All’Acqua, and Tacos Villa Corona, before doubling back and grabbing something to eat.