Residents Look Toward Rebuilding a Damaged Minneapolis
SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
Calm has mostly returned to the streets of Minneapolis after days of protests following George Floyd's death in police custody. But after days of looting, rioting and buildings set on fire, residents in that city are now taking stock of the damage. NPR's Adrian Florido reports.
ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: One of the street's hardest hit by the rioting is south Minneapolis' Lake Street. Last week, Krystal Bradley watched neighbors putting out a fire at one of the shops. On Thursday, she came out again.
KRYSTAL BRADLEY: This is my first time actually getting a look at everything. I'm a little emotional, so forgive me.
FLORIDO: The smashed windows, looted storefronts and scorched ruins go on for miles - family-run markets, beauty salons, the nearest gas station.
BRADLEY: Everywhere that I normally shop at is gone. Every - I have to go outside the city, go out of our neighborhood just to get gas or food. I can't tell you where to even go grocery shopping at.
FLORIDO: Many people have said the images of rioting and destruction are the reason people around the globe have finally paid attention to injustices faced by black Americans. Bradley supports the protests. She says the police slammed her 14-year-old son to the ground. Still, this is her neighborhood, so she's conflicted.
BRADLEY: I look at it as - it's going to hurt our community more because we're already, in my personal opinion, impoverished. Now you done took away everything that we have. It's just - it's hard and hurtful.
FLORIDO: Across the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, about 500 businesses were damaged or looted; nearly 70 of them burned to the ground. Talk of rebuilding is just beginning. No one knows what that will look like. But slowly, very slowly, cleanup is starting.
(SOUNDBITE OF DRILL)
FLORIDO: Olivia McNichols and two colleagues were boarding up the smashed-out windows at a cellphone store nearby. They work for a company that some business owners have hired to help with cleanup.
OLIVIA MCNICHOLS: The store got completely ransacked. So we're just making sure nobody else gets in it for now and that the property is secured.
FLORIDO: Store owners whose businesses were only partially damaged are trying to figure out what is next. Across the street, Julian Ocampo and his sister, Galilea Ocampo, were selling tacos out of a truck. Their family's taco shop, a few steps away, was vandalized. Julian said it's hard to see all of this because so many of these businesses are owned by African Americans and immigrants.
JULIAN OCAMPO: Ten, 20, 30 years of change on Lake Street, you know, it's kind of like...
GALILEA OCAMPO: Gone.
J OCAMPO: ...In one weekend, like, now it's - hopefully, it's not gone because we're not going anywhere. We're going to rebuild and open up. Hopefully, a lot of the other businesses that were broken are going to do the same. But the ones that are burned down, that's up in the air.
FLORIDO: But like many people, both he and his sister said look at what the demonstrations achieved - the arrest of all four officers involved in George Floyd's death.
G OCAMPO: Which is great, and I feel like they wouldn't have done that if none of the riots ever occurred. So, honestly, I think it's OK because justice is coming.
(SOUNDBITE OF CONSTRUCTION)
JAMES BADUE: That's a lot better than...
FLORIDO: In an empty parking lot a block away, Anthony McMorris and James Badue were unloading donated construction materials from a truck. The driver handed them gloves to unload the plywood.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.
ANTHONY MCMORRIS: Oh, yeah. It definitely made a difference.
BADUE: ...Allowed us not to get so many splinters (laughter).
MCMORRIS: We were scared most of splinters. Out of everything that happened...
MCMORRIS: ...Splinters - was like, nah, we can't have no splinters.
FLORIDO: Badue said these donations came from people in north Minneapolis.
BADUE: We always wanted things to burn down, metaphorically, right? Like, the institutions.
FLORIDO: Institutions, he says, have rarely supported black Americans. Now that their businesses have burned, he thinks neighbors will have to depend on each other to rebuild.
BADUE: And so anything that we need, we're just supplying it to ourselves, instead of going back to the old same systems that never supported us in the first place.
FLORIDO: Today, that starts with donated drywall, hammers and drills.
Adrian Florido, NPR News, Minneapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.