Since the death of George Floyd on May 25, Minnesotans have woken up each day to a changed world. First, when news of Floyd’s death flooded media headlines, the community reacted with grief and outrage as activists quickly organized peaceful protests. Just days later, the sunrise was accompanied by smoldering fires and shattered glass as riots overtook the city in the night.
Beneath the chaos, there is a city trying to pull itself back together, brick by tumbled brick. In the last week, Minneapolis has seen horrors. But tragedy can also bring out the best in humanity.
Each day, hundreds of volunteers diligently sweep glass and clear rubble from the sidewalks. City Councilor Jeremiah Ellison, among others, walks the streets with buckets of water and puts out fires burning in the ruins of unrecognizable buildings. Numerous social media groups have popped up, organizing volunteers to clean areas with the highest need.
Afraid of looters that hunt at night, shops around the Twin Cities area have boarded up their windows – in some cases, writing statements of solidarity and heartfelt pleas on the planks.
As a result, many living in the city cannot access the stores they need for essential supplies. The community has stepped up: Small food donation centers litter the corners along Lake Street, and larger operations have set up shop in venues such as U.S. Bank Stadium, Midtown Global Market, and Holy Trinity Church. Some locations have so many donors that the line of cars waiting to drop off packages causes a traffic jam blocks down the street.
The scale of grief, pain, and violence in wake of the death of George Floyd has been immense. Unfortunately, Floyd’s tragedy is one of many — Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others have suffered from injustice and violence that goes back for generations. The protests spreading across America are not only about one murder. They are about a system that has killed, oppressed and silenced too many.
In the midst of these protests and the riots that have followed in their wake, there is hope. Perhaps these events will bring about change in the way that police are trained and engage with the community. Perhaps the demonstrations will prompt more people to reflect on their implicit and explicit biases. Perhaps this week will be a step forward in the long road to equality.
Minneapolis is brimming with emotion. Rage. Sadness. Disbelief. Exhaustion. But perhaps love — for George Floyd and his family, for small businesses, and for the community — will win out in the end.
Images Credits: Alicia Zhang // Ron Lundquist