A family-owned Santa Monica music center is working to pick up the pieces after they were hit by looters right after being shut down for months due to COVID-19.
They were looted just days after reopening.
The owners of the Santa Monica Music Center are still trying to understand the destruction that happened at their business as it stands boarded up, with messages of love written on the wood.
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“I could hear the sound of the glass breaking. It was so violating,” Lana Negrete said.
Looters attacked the store on May 31. Several people were dropped off in cars and grabbed what they could.
"Everyone helping each other get inside. They are taking violins that were donated for kids in our nonprofit program, throwing them onto the sidewalk, slamming cellos into the car. There was stuff all over the street. They are driving all over the merchandise with no regard for anything," Negrete said.
Negrete runs the business with her father Chico Fernandez.
He started the concept in 1972 to sell and rent musical instruments, offer lessons, and help school districts with their band programs.
"It was just horrible. This has been our life, doing this, and we have done so much for the community. We give free lessons through outreach through the arts," Fernandez said.
They say they know the looters had nothing to do with the George Floyd protests.
The nonprofit work they do allows children the opportunity to play musical instruments.
"We are trying to feed that underserved population. The community that is overlooked because I was that, and I am still that. And that’s what hurt," Negrete said.
But their friends are helping to pick them back up. In two weeks, they’ve raised more than $37,000 dollars on their GoFundMe account.
After losing nearly 70% of their business during COVID-19, they hope it will be enough to let them keep their store open, and inspire the next generation of musicians.
"I’m going to keep going. I have to for my girls. I don’t have a choice. I’m passionate for what I do and I’m going to keep doing it," Negrete said.
Anyone interested in helping out the Santa Monica Music Center can visit this site.