Earlier today I wrote about the small business owners in Chicago who are trying to decide what to do next after having their businesses looted twice in three months. And then I came across this video from Minneapolis. This clip is nearly 15 minutes long and, for most of it, the person filming is completely silent as he tours the area where he used to live. Then about 8 minutes in he said, “So if you’ve noticed I haven’t talked very much in this video.” He continued, “I’m quiet in this video because I don’t really know wha to say. My mind is blown…I used to live not too far away from this…This is where I did my grocery shopping, where I would go out to eat, where I would meet up with friends, go out to a bar…
“Can’t do any of that anymore. It’s just incredibly desolate. A desolate wasteland.”
And he’s right. Watch this clip and you’ll see the incredible scale of the damage. With the exception of one site that was being rebuilt, most of it looks like it hasn’t been touched since rioters burned it down.
What used to be Uncle Hugo’s science fiction book store is now a low pile of brick and metal littered with burned book pages, like something out of Farenheit 451. It had been in this location for 35 years before it was burned down. The owner says he’s been trying to have the site cleared of debris, which could cost him up to $100,000, but so far the city’s red tape has prevented him from making any progress. Imagine seeing your livelihood burned to the ground because police can’t stop the rioters and then the city gets in your way when you try to clean up the rubble.
But believe it or not, things could be worse.
Laura Ingraham did some reporting from Minneapolis this week. One of the business owners she spoke with had his entire building burned to the ground. To prevent anyone from falling into the rubble, the city came out and put up a fence around the site. Then it sent the owner a bill for $3,700. That’s right, he’s having to pay the city to protect the rubble.
All of this happened within a few blocks of the 3rd precinct but officers there were overwhelmed. KMSP, a Fox affiliate in Minneapolis did a minute by minute breakdown of what happened that night. Cops who were there were told early in the morning to clear out their lockers. The city had decided it would abandon the precinct if necessary because defending it would require too many officers who were needed elsewhere. And that’s what happened. After a long siege by rioters, fleeing officers made it out of the building’s back gate just in time to avoid direct, hand-to-hand combat with rioters who were forcing their way inside.
Mayor Frey says it could have been worse and he might even be right. If officers had been killed that night or if they had shot protesters dead to protect themselves the violence in the city likely would have escalated. But what did happen 10 weeks ago is bad enough. It will be years before this area recovers, assuming it ever does.