A new beginning: La Mesa holds ceremony for bank burned in 2020 riots
LA MESA (KUSI) – 14 months after the Union Bank building in La Mesa burned to the ground following riots, the community celebrated a groundbreaking at the construction site where they plan to rebuild. The building burned as violence unfolded in the wake of racial unrest after the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Community members and long-time Union Bank employees said the milestone Wednesday was another step towards healing.
“This place here where my team and I came every day to work to serve my community was burnt to the ground and it was breaking my heart,” said Carlton Hill, Union Bank La Mesa Branch Manager. “Today is another important step forward to heal and rebuild the bank and rebuild our community for the future.”
For the community to move forward, they reflected on the events that took place May 30, 2020, when businesses were looted, and riots threatened buildings near downtown. Omar Salah, Head of Small Business Banking at Union Bank, said the destruction of local businesses hit particularly hard.
“It was an emotional day. It was a difficult day, and as a native San Diegans I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Salah said. “To see us come back with resilience, as a bank and small business community, it’s incredible.”
The celebrations focused on how the entire community came together to make moving forward possible. From stepping up to help clean and rebuild in the days that followed, to the artwork and messages left surrounding the site where the Union Bank building burned.
They thanked the community for the part they played in bringing them joy during such a dark time. Artwork that was left surrounding the scene where the building burned will be used as artwork in the temporary and eventually re-built bank. They hope to have the new building constructed by December 2021.
KUSI’s Hunter Sowards was live from the groundbreaking ceremony with more.