Boyle Heights coffee shop keeps brewing amid protests, vandalism

BOYLE HEIGHTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Weird Wave Coffee brewers in Boyle Heights opened up about six weeks ago, and according to co-owner Jackson Defa, protests began on their first day in business.

"I went out there to speak with them because I'm open to having a conversation, but they wouldn't speak to us or talk to us," said Defa. "They just insulted us."

Some community organizers who oppose the new business say they don't want local residents to be displaced.

"Now land speculators are coming in because of these new developments and because of businesses like the galleries and the coffee shops and they're starting to buy up properties around the neighborhood," said resident Elizabeh Blaney.

Over the past week, police said the business has been vandalized twice. One incident was caught on video where someone appeared to use a slingshot to break the glass door.

"I just don't think it represents, really, who we are as a community," said resident Zolie Breeland.

The owners said in the wake of the protests and vandalism, they've received an outpouring of support mostly from community members.

"They were so kind to us and welcoming, so we didn't see this little faction of people coming," said Defa of the protesters.

Ulises Sanchez, who lives in the area, supports the coffee shop and businesses like it.

"I think there are some legitimate concerns regarding the protection of the aesthetics of the community and making sure we protect the working families and the rich culture that we have here," said Sanchez. "We also have to be aware that Boyle Heights exists in the paradigm of a bigger city."

Blaney, who opposes the coffee shop, said residents who share her views want businesses to understand the negative impact they're having on the community, but they do not support vandalizing property.

Defa said that despite the vandalism, Weird Wave will continue serving coffee in Boyle Heights.

"I feel blessed to be part of this community," Defa said. "I really do."
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