As unrest took hold across Southern California, businesses in Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beach began boarding up their windows to ward off potential looting spurred on by protests over the death of George Floyd.

By noon Monday, the Ralphs in Manhattan Village was covered in plywood. By mid-afternoon Monday, downtown Manhattan Beach businesses followed suit, including the entire block of Skechers buildings on Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue. Even the iconic Ercoles bar adjacent to Manhattan Grocery was boarded up.

Having to board up businesses they just reopened after a 10-week coronavirus shutdown has been heart-wrenching for owners said Kelly Stroman, CEO of Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Business owners, said Stroman, have been on an economic and emotional roller coaster.

“There was hope for recovery and you could see it in their eyes,” Stroman said after businesses started to open up last week.

“To have to put the breaks on suddenly (again) and now fear for the safety of their business and employees is extremely disheartening,” said Stroman.

Meanwhile, public safety agencies throughout the South Bay sent out alerts about emergency schedules. They’ve canceled days off and officers were working round the clock with day and night shifts. But still, said Manhattan Beach police Sgt. Tim Zins, agencies rely on residents to report suspicious activity.

After a weekend full of protests followed by looting and rioting throughout Los Angeles County, a rally planned for midday Monday at Bruce’s Beach was called off.

On Sunday, word of the planned protest in North Manhattan Beach started to spread just as social media threats to the South Bay started to circulate.

When the Manhattan Beach Police got wind of the plans, Zins said, they reached out to the organizer, a Manhattan Beach resident, and he agreed to postpone the rally.

“We had concerns over what is occurring throughout the nation,” said Zins. “We want people to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we are concerned about what follows the peaceful demonstration with the rioting and the looting.”

Zins said the organizer, who declined to be interviewed for this story, agreed to hold a protest at a better time after things calmed down.

Also on Sunday, Zins credited citizens with alerting Manhattan Beach police to a group of about 40 young people riding bicycles who were disobeying traffic laws. Dispatchers also said the tipsters who called in claimed the youngsters were shouting expletives as they rode, said Zins.

The group, said Zins, “who could have been there to cause some type of trouble” was riding in the middle of Rosecrans Avenue in Manhattan Beach traveling west.

Dispatch received several calls about them, he said, so police followed the youngsters onto Valley Drive and into Hermosa Beach. There officers from multiple agencies convinced the bicyclists to “turn around and head back the way they came,” said Zins.

“We’re telling Manhattan Beach to be vigilant,” said Zins. “If you see something, say something. We’ve said it again and again.”

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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