Martin Rothfeld didn't feel like talking.
The sun was setting and the glass window and door of his Readers' World shop at 1006 Vermont Ave. NW had man-sized holes -- the result of yesterday's outbreak of vandalism and looting that accompanied anti-Klan protests.
"Ten years at this location," he repeated to himself as he bent deep to rake glass and debris into a neat pile on the sidewalk.
Besides the $3,000 damage to the front of his store, Rothfeld said vandals picked his display windows clean. Someone had even taken the portable black-and-white television set the cashier watched when business was slow.
Few of the businesses in the 1000 block of Vermont Avenue NW were spared, and several stores as far away as Ninth and F streets NW were also looted or were closed as a precaution against vandalism.
"It was scary," said Kathy Malie, a cashier at Readers' World. "It was a riot, a full-scale riot out there."
Next door at Big Wheel Bikes, Bruce Pascal swept up glass. "All of a sudden about 500 people came up the block," Pascal recalled. "They were yelling, 'Free Fujis.' "
Within minutes, the shop's windows had been broken and 15 to 20 bicycles, each valued at $400 to $500, disappeared into the crowd. Shop owner Mike Sendar estimated the damage and loss at $20,000.
Sendar and other shopowners in the block said police were slow to respond to the looting.
"I saw Police Chief Maurice Turner on TV commending the police, but I can't see anything to commend," Sendar said last night. "It's surprising to me that 15 minutes could elapse between when the first brick hit and when the police arrived. . . . Maybe they the police were undermanned, but they shouldn't have been."
There was destruction all along the block and the scene was repeated in other blocks nearby.
Selma Goodman, coowner of Squire's clothing store at 1012 14th St. NW, couldn't contain her rage.
"They took, took, took anything we had," she said, her eyes blazing. "Suits, leather coats, shoes, shirts, sweaters. Anything we had.
"They're crazy," she said, still trying to determine the extent of her losses. "They're just animals, just animals."
The operations manager of Woodward & Lothrop downtown said he ordered the doors locked and the store closed temporarily after several hundred people tried to storm the store.
To Alfred Cohen, owner of Al's Magic and Fun Shop at 1012 Vermont, yesterday's violence was frighteningly familiar.
Before moving to his present location two years ago, Cohen's shop had been at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. It was vandalized and looted during the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I said to myself, 'I don't believe this, it's happening again,' " Cohen said hours after a group of "young kids" smashed his windows and carted away display items.
After the 1968 riots, Cohen said, he decided to keep his business in the city. Yesterday he said he wasn't sure he had made the right decision.
But by last night, boards had replaced the broken glass store windows and the night life along Vermont seemed as brisk as usual.