MELROSE—On Sunday, May 31, a Pantry LA owner found her store, located on Melrose Avenue, looted with destruction to two storefront windows, and the front door. Instead of acting with anger, owner Brandie Rossi spray-painted a message of love.
Rossi spoke with Canyon News and indicated that she did feel anger after the looting and destruction but she, “took a breath and said, what the world needs in times like this is …kindness and positivity.”
After the windows were boarded up, Rossi spray-painted “We Are Strong” on one window and, “We Forgive You, #BlackLivesMatter #HumansMatter.”
By the morning of Monday, June 1 the city painted over Rossi’s statement, identifying it as graffiti. The same day Rossi spray-painted another message echoing the sentiment of her first saying, “Respect Love Live” and “Forgive.” Rossi is now filing a civil suit against the city of Los Angeles for painting over her original message.
A press release from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works says that numerous graffiti contracting crews were dispatched to remove graffiti throughout Los Angeles during the time Rossi’s message was covered up.
Pantry LA was one of many shops looted and destroyed on May 30 in the Melrose region. For the past ten days, the greater L.A. area has seen protests, riots, lootings, and destruction of businesses after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Rossi expressed that the people that trashed her stores and others are not the same as the peaceful protestors, saying they aren’t part of any movement. Choosing not to express anger is something she learned dually from her grandmother and boxing saying, “Anger is a short fuse” and that it, “gives the other person power.”
Rossi noted that she did not want to be a catalyst for anger. She does not want anger to be brought to the Black Lives Matter movement, but additionally, she wants her message to reach the looters saying, “You haven’t won me over.” Rossi said she doesn’t want people to see her angry and begin bashing others.
Rossi watched the looting from her home in Los Angeles telling Canyon News that around 12:30 a.m. the night the looting began, a white blonde female entered the store and perused items Pantry LA sells. Rossi says the looter read labels, picked out what she needed, and then left.
On May 31, Rossi found her store destroyed, she re-opened serving coffee for free to the community. “If we board up and quit, they win,” Rossi told Canyon News. Pantry LA intends to continue posting messages of love, with Rossi planning to have a graffiti artist create a more permanent message for the storefront.
Pantry LA opened earlier this year on January 29 and quickly became a staple to the local community during the COVID-19 crisis. The store offered toilet paper in times of shortage sold reusable paper towel replacements, and produced high quantities of hand sanitizer when needed.
In addition to the destruction of a door and two windows, Rossi had electronics and a cash box stolen. She expressed Pantry LA had recently ordered a new payment system, so Ross is “[trying] to make humor out of it.”
Pantry LA describes themselves as, “a little bit of healing, a little bit of good food, and some Natural Healing Wellness.” They also offer every spice in the world and a great cup of coffee.