The streets in front of the Koreatown Galleria in Los Angeles, which used to be bustling with shoppers, were full of tension at around 4 p.m. Monday with military troops deployed to the area. National Guard soldiers in bullet-proof helmets, armed with rifles, stood guard in pairs at main gates and corners. There were five soldiers at the entrance of the shopping mall. Three military trucks were on standby near the shopping mall in case of an emergency. Military vehicles were also patrolling around the Koreatown.
Tensions are increasing in the Korean community with protests against racism in the U.S. is continuing over a week. The California National Guard has been deployed to Koreatown in Los Angeles to prevent looting and maintain order. The Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles and the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles acted quickly to ask for the deployment of the National Guard.
About 40 people from the Los Angeles County, LA Police, and the Korean Community Association in Los Angeles held a video conference at around 1:30 p.m. on the day to discuss security measures. “We will protect Korean-Americans. Don’t worry,” said the LA police, reassuring others at the meeting.
But increasing number of Koreans living in Los Angeles are purchasing firearms out of fear. About 10 people were lining up at a gun store near Koreatown on the same day, waiting for their turn to buy a firearm. This shows a deep trauma the Korean community suffered during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 79 Korean stores suffered damage amid the protests as of Monday, up by over three times from the previous day (26). Among them, 50 cases were from Philadelphia, 10 were from Minneapolis, five were from Lali, and four were from Atlanta. No Korean casualties were reported. “Measures to protect regions densely populated by Korean nationals should be prepared, such as enhancing cooperation with law enforcement agencies near Koreatown and maintaining an emergency contact network, while making full efforts to prevent further damage and help those who already suffered damage amid the protests,” Lee Tae-ho, second vice minister of Foreign Affairs, said during a video conference discussing measures to protect Korean nationals residing abroad.
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