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La Mesa bank burned down in May 2020 to be rebuilt

la mesa union bank may 2020 protest riot
Posted at 10:11 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 21:41:52-04

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A bank that was burned down during a night of unrest in La Mesa in 2020 is being rebuilt.

On May 30, 2020, a round of peaceful protests took place in La Mesa, but the situation devolved later in the evening when some people began rioting and looting, targeting several businesses.

One business, the Union Bank on 4771 Spring St., was torched and burned to the ground amid the chaotic events. It was one of two side-by-side banks destroyed.

“I knew there was a protest happening and it was peaceful and as night fell I started getting messages that maybe it was turning a little more into civil unrest so I decided to come on down and check it out for myself and was completely shocked with what I saw with the branch on fire,” said Carlton Hill, Director and Branch Manager for Union Bank.

In the following days, many La Mesa residents banded together to pick up the pieces and clean up their town.

RELATED: Officials release timeline that details how May 30-31 demonstrations turned into riots

On Wednesday afternoon, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the reconstruction of the Union Bank branch.

Hill has been the manager at that location for 14 years, and said it was surreal to watch his place of work burn to the ground.

“It was heartbreaking. it was a heartbreaking moment. The first thing I thought about was my clients and my team and what’s going to happen next so it was a heartbreaking moment,” he said.

He said they instantly got to work, embodying the saying that quickly grew in the area, “La Mesa strong.” About 14 months after it burned and they are finally breaking ground on construction to rebuild.

“This really is just a message of resiliency and the groundbreaking is just one of those steps along the way so we’re really excited about that,” said Hill.

He said while there is a current temporary branch in the parking lot, the goal is to reopen this brand new facility by winter 2020.