LOS ANGELES - Good Samaritans who were trying to help the owners of a Los Angeles liquor store protect their business from alleged looters were handcuffed and detained by police who were confused after arriving at the scene Monday evening. The entire situation took place live on FOX 11.
Reporter Christina Gonzalez was outside the Van Nuys liquor store where community members were vowing to protect the storefront from potential looters because the owner was a valued member of their community.
Monet, a well-known member of the local community, said she doesn’t believe looters have anything to do with the protests.
“I believe what they’re doing is trying to get, what they can get, because of the protest situation,” she said. “I have children, African-American kids, he’s not African-American, his son’s not African-American but you’re not gonna come to our city and tear our city up when this man has been here for over 30+ years and helped everyone on this city block.”
A short time later, the store owners and members of the community got into a standoff with a group of alleged looters who approached a gold store next door. However, the liquor store owners—who were armed—and the residents who came to help weren’t going to let that happen.
"We're not doing that. We're not tearing up anything over here,” Monet recalled saying to the alleged looters.
Gonzalez and Monet tried to flag down police as they passed. When Los Angeles Police officers arrived in front of the store, there was confusion. As the situation continued to unfold on live TV, several of the officers ran after several men who ran cross the street, but other officers approached Monet, her husband and brother-in-law, whom are all African American, and began putting them in handcuffs as Gonzalez tried explaining that they were not the looters.
“We’re putting those in handcuffs right now!” one of the officers said to Gonzalez, as she frantically tried to explain they had the wrong people and were losing the alleged looters. Gonzalez went on to provide police with a description of the alleged looters, answering officers' questions while she was still live on air.
"I was handcuffed, thrown up against a wall with my husband and brother-in-law, and I'm like, 'What the hell?'" Monet explained in an exclusive interview with FOX 11. "The news people are here and telling you it's not her, she's trying to stop the situation."
LAPD Commanding Officer Andy Neiman said he watched FOX 11’s live broadcast and drove to the location immediately because he watched the “confusion” unfold.
“[Officers] have citizens that are flagging them down, not knowing what’s going on, and until they sort everything out, they don’t know who they’re dealing with," he said. "They don’t know if they’re good guys, bad guys and so we have to get it under control first and then sort everything out.”
Monet and the other members of the community who were handcuffed were later released. She told FOX 11 she has lived in the neighborhood for 37 years and has known the store owner for 30 years. She said they saw people trying to get into the business to loot it and had to do something.
"I understand the protest. I understand what this is about. I get it. I understand that - I'm fighting for the same protest," Monet said. "But we don't want people from other cities to come and tear [apart] where we live because we have to rebuild this. We did this once before. I understand the anger."
Monet told Gonzalez late Monday evening that she understands that tensions are high but believes police need to do a better job in their response to the African American community.
"I get it. I understand they're [the officers] are tired. They're worn-out too. We've been worn out. I'm 55, we're tired too. The same injustice you did to us years ago, and my father and forefathers, you guys are doing to our young black men and our young black women, including Latinos," she said.
Monet said she wants people to think about how their actions can impact others and the ripple effect that can stem from split-second decisions.
"I tell my children this all the time, 'One second of your thinking can cost you your life or someone else's life.' This white gentleman who was a police officer who was here to protect and serve, one second of his thinking cost someone else their life, which is about to cost your family their life, and costing people their business," Monet detailed.