Is Boyle Heights Coffee Shop Vandalism An Anti-Gentrification Message?

BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA.com) — Security camera video shows someone who appears to be dressed in black and wearing a mask walk up to a Boyle Heights coffee shop and aim what looks like a slingshot at the front door.

One of the owners of Weird Wave Coffee tells CBSLA some didn’t offer the warmest welcome when his shop opened here over a month ago. Protesters have voiced their anger over a much larger anti-gentrification issue in the neighborhood. Still, the owner says, he doesn’t want to point fingers and has no idea who did this.

“So when I arrived I saw the glass shattered and said ‘oh ok the glass is broken’ open the gate and open the door and all the glass fell down to the floor,” the owner said.

Steven Martinez owns Lees Key and Locksmith down the street. It’s been around since the 1950s and unlike some here he’s in favor of new businesses moving in.

Some in the area feel newcomers are driving up rents and pushing out businesses and people who have lived here for years.

“Everybody’s afraid of change and change is constant so it’s good for that business person to come in,” Martinez said.  “And I like to have a coffee once in a while instead of Jack in-the-Box, what’s wrong with it?”

People we talked with tell us they came by the coffee shop Wednesday to get good coffee and simply say they want the coffee shop here.

“Bashing and vandalizing and threatening is not going to stop progress,” Customer Nathan Haener said. “There’s too much happening in this city and not one community is immune to what’s frankly a statewide issue.”

“When you look around and you see this art, this isn’t white people trying to shove white culture down someone’s throat,” Customer Meredith Miller said. “The art is beautiful,  the coffee is delicious and they’re just trying to provide a safe place for people to come.”

The owner says he opened Weird Wave Coffee to give people exactly that.

“For every bad there’s ten times as much good and ten times much support that comes from it.”

The coffee shop filed a report with the LAPD. In the meantime it will cost more than $300 in repairs. They’ve boarded up the door until that work is done and plan to stay open for business as usual.

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