Police in Van Nuys Detained a Black Family Defending a Local Business, Mistaking Them for Looters

A local TV crew broadcast the incident live, as cops handcuffed the very people that had called the officers over to help them protect the 30-year-old shop

As incidents of looting were reported during Monday’s demonstrations in Van Nuys, a group of local residents came out to stand guard around a popular local business. When the police showed up, officers assumed those volunteer guards were the looters.

A woman identified as Monet, who is Black, along with her husband, sister, and brother-in-law, who are also Black, stood outside the 30-year-old neighborhood liquor store to keep looters and vandals at bay. In an interview with Fox 11, Monet expressed her sympathy for the goal of protesters, but also frustration that small businesses in her neighborhood were being damaged.

“I understand the protest. I understand what this is about. I get it. I understand that. I’m fighting for the same protest,” Monet told the reporter. “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.”

Moments after being interviewed, with the news cameras still rolling, a group of men got out of their car and approached a gold store in the same shopping center where Monet and her family stood. The owner of the liquor store and his son, who are not Black, approached the young men who may have been considering breaking into the gold store. The shop owner and his son carried large guns, though no shots were fired.

The shop owners and Monet’s family, with the help of Fox reporter Christina Gonzalez, flagged down an LAPD squad car as it passed, asking them to help with the men in the parking lot. But when the police ran shouting up to the scene, hands hovering at their weapons, confusion escalated. Officers in riot gear pointed military-style rifles at the Black family that was protecting the store, not the potential looters themselves, pressing them against the storefront and handcuffing them immediately.

Gonzalez attempted to inform the cops that they were detaining the wrong people, as the actual potential looters dispersed. An officer approached her and the camera operator, telling them to “stand down” and informing her that “we’re putting those in handcuffs right now.” They do not appear to question or detain the armed shop owners.

“Maybe we’re seeing some of those systemic issues that protesters are upset about,” one of the Fox 11 anchors offered as the live feed continued.

LAPD Commanding Officer Andy Neiman told Fox 11 that the officers were behaving according to protocol. “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 offered a note of generosity towards the police officers in a follow-up conversation with Gonzalez after her family was released, but she reiterated the connection between what the cameras witnessed and her daily lived experience.

“I get it. I understand they [the officers] are tired.” she said. “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.”

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