Protests Raise Safety Concerns For Visitors, Businesses

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After two nights of protests in downtown Los Angeles, some people are concerned about safety as the holiday weekend approaches.

CBS2’s Juan Fernandez reported that there are a lot of activities slated in and near Staples Center, including a Lakers game Wednesday night and the Auto Show continuing through the weekend. For both families and businesses there is a lot to consider before heading downtown.

“My wife and I spoke about it on our way here today,” Jason Vollmer said of the recent sporadic protests in downtown Los Angeles connected to the Ferguson, Mo., grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The Vollmers had to decide if they felt comfortable bringing sons John and Jake downtown.

“Overall, we make good judgments when we’re in the moment, and if anything were to become dangerous or skeptical, we’d leave,” said Donna Vollmer. “We’d remove ourselves.” said Donna Vollmer.

Wednesday was the third night that protesters took to Los Angeles streets.

Robert Ananian, the owner of El Compadre restaurant on Figueroa Street, near Staples Center, said a Los Angeles police officer suggested he close early on Tuesday night as protesters neared.

“‘In about 15 minutes you should get everybody out of here,'” Ananian recounted. “By that time there was a few customers and just the employees. Because they didn’t think they were going to come up this far, but they did. And it was a bigger crowd than Monday night.”

Ananian owned a bar in Westwood in the early 1990s, and said he had to deal with the fallout from the Rodney King verdict, and feared a repeat this week.

“So me, being in Westwood Village back then, all I’m thinking about is, ‘Oh no, are they going to break windows, are they going to loot?’ It was a mess for that one,” said Ananian, who hoped things would remain calm and the LAPD would continue to have a handle on the protests.

“I don’t think they are going to let anything happen past Washington (Boulevard) to be honest with you,” he said. “There is too much going on here.”

Donna Vollmer was also optimistic heading into the evening.

“Beautiful day, how could you go wrong,” she said.

More from Juan Fernandez
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