• Daniel D. Calvo

Comicbook store in LA gets looted. Their response: Placing signs of support for Black Lives Matter

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

As of today, protests for the brutal murder of George Floyd have been taking place for more than a week, with thousands of people marching on the streets demanding justice and racial equality for the black community in the United States. However, as it happens in most movements, some people looking for a thrill have joined the protests in order to destroy public property and loot local businesses.

Hi de Ho Comics was one of the businesses affected by the looters. This comic-book store has been in Santa Monica for 43 years, being the oldest establishment of its kind in the Los Angeles county. Providing a safe space for black, brown and LGTBQ fans and creators alike, this Latinx-owned store was ravaged on May 31st, after spending months closed due to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One of the owners, Kristen Parraz, let her followers know on social media what was going on, trying to take the situation with a positive mindset.

“Even the Looters don’t want those God-Forsaken Pops! Thank you to everyone checking in on us! Our shop was looted, but Eddie and I and our employees are all safe! They are just things, they can be replaced! Black Lives Matter!”

However, the way they recovered the next day was truly inspiring for many. While other businesses would have resented the protesters, Kristen, her husband Eddie DeAngellini and co-owner Geoffrey Patterson covered the broken windows of the store with wooden boards that had messages expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Captain America, Superman and Black Panther would march too.”

“Minority owned, Latinx Owned. #blacklivesmatter.”

The store also tweeted a heartfelt message for its followers, making their stance clear regarding current events:

"Yes, we were looted. Yes, we had property destroyed. No, that does not take away from the righteousness of the protests. Don't be angry for us, be angry for the injustices that have yet to be righted. We stand with you now more than ever."

I got together with Kirsten Parraz and asked her some questions about the incident.

1 - Where were you when the looting took place and how did you find out it was happening?

Due to Covid-19, Hi De Ho Comics had been closed since March 27 with only limited curbside pickup available. On May 27, we were allowed to reopen to customers however, we were still working on rescheduling our employees so we had very limited days and hours and were only planned to be open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12-6. That is how it happened that on Sunday, May 31, the shop was closed and none of the employees or owners/managers were present. My husband, Eddie, and I were at home watching Hulu when friends started contacting us and asking us if the shop was ok. It was at that time that we turned on the news and immediately saw the looting happening at the Vans store located in Santa Monica on the corner of 4th and Broadway. The store is 4 doors down from Hi De Ho Comics. We watched live on the news as people were running in and out of the Vans store and down the street directly passed our shop. Unfortunately, the news cameras were fixed on the Vans store and we couldn't see exactly what was happening to our shop. It wasn't until a customer and close friend of ours, the Editor of the Santa Monica Daily Press, texted us pictures of our broken door and looted store front that we knew for certain that our shop had been targeted. It was at this time that I posted to FB to share those pictures and make the joke that even the looters didn't want our Funko Pops! I ended that post with Black Lives Matter! I wanted to make sure that people knew that I stood with with protesters and I didn't want what happened to our store to detract from that.

2- How did you feel seeing your store after they went through it?

The evening of May 31, Eddie and I and our two other partners, Geoffrey Patterson and Mauricio Machuca, were advised to travel to the shop and try to board up the broken door and glass. Eddie and I quickly went to Home Depot to pick up some plywood and traveled to Santa Monica at about 5:45 pm, 15 minutes before the newly set LA County wide curfew. As we got closer to Santa Monica, we had to travel down streets, leaving the freeway, because police had blocked off all freeway exits. We tried to go down a major street and found it blocked off as well. Through sheer luck and many small streets and alleyways, we were able to make it to Broadway and Lincoln, 4 blocks away from the shop. As we waited at a stop light, we watched as looters broke in to a local hardware store and came out carrying mallets. Further down the street, we watched as those same people used those mallets to break in the doorway to Vons. All around our vehicle, people were running and yelling. Police were racing down streets and smoke bombs were going off everywhere. It was at this time that our partner, Mauricio, texted us to say that he had made it closer to the shop and spoke to a police officer who told him to not waste his time trying to go further, our building was on fire. We left Santa Monica that night, thinking that our entire shop was lost. Luckily, on our way home, our other partner, Geoffrey, said he spoke to someone and was told that our building was not on fire.

Once home, the emotional roller coaster of everything we had experienced and the thought of losing the shop entirely finally hit me and I cried. I cried because it felt personal. But I also cried because the pure sadness and distress of black people being shown on the tv was overwhelming. I reminded myself that they were just “things” and the important thing was that no one was hurt.

The next day, we were able to go to the store to board up the windows. Being physically present and seeing the destruction in person was very hard. Seeing all the glass all over the floor and all the merchandise that was just strewn all over the store or just missing altogether was very sad.

3- What moved you to place those signs of support?

As a group, myself and Eddie and our other partners decided that we wanted to add a message of support on the plywood that we used to board up the shop. We wanted to clearly convey that we supported the protesters and their message of justice for George Floyd. We didn't want the destruction of our shop to overshadow the message that Black Lives Matter. It was Geoffrey who insisted that we write Wakanda Forever and Captain America, Superman and Black Panther would march, too because he wanted to make sure people understood that the superheroes that we all know and love stand for the same ideals as those out marching for social justice.

You can help the store get back on its feet by supporting their GoFundMe campaign.


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