The workweek started Monday with the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police outside of Cup Foods on 38th and Chicago and ended Friday with Lake Street in flames and an ongoing vigil outside Cup, where the breaking news of former police officer Derek Chauvin being charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter was met with a tired cheer. MinnPost surveyed the scene, in interviews and photos:
“He’s in custody! He’s in custody! This is news!” shouted a kid who didn’t want to be identified, breaking the news that Chauvin had been charged around 1 p.m. Friday to the crowd attending an ongoing vigil gathered on 38th and Chicago. The crowd of about 200 cheered slightly, then returned to the silence of the vigil, which was broken by a chant of, “One down, three to go!”
Rehema Martinez on E. Lake Street: “I’m here for my people, I’m here for my lost brothers and sisters who have been taken by the police and their hate-filled agenda. I’m tired. I’m tired of being targeted.”
Dayo Ogundepo on E. Lake Street: “I live two blocks away here in south Minneapolis. It’s exhausting. We know that all these police officers here have all seen the same video we’ve seen. It’s about humanity. Everybody who saw that video knows it’s cold-blooded murder. And the people here in power in Minneapolis would rather see the city burn down than put them in jail. There’s an easy fix. We saw him die. We saw his knee on his neck for nine minutes, and none of these cops will say anything about it. It’s disheartening.”
Outside Moon Palace Books, up the street from the smoldering police precinct, Stringer Harris admonished the police line outside Moon Palace Books, who stood silently holding batons: “I’m from Chicago, I’m a community activist,” Stringer told MinnPost. “We just want Mike Freeman to do what he needs to do. If they would have done that two days ago, the city wouldn’t be burning to the ground right now. The family needs justice, and so do we. I don’t condone the burning of things, but something needs to be done. Hopefully we get it.”
Darcy Best, Jillian Lenser, Ninja Svetkova: “We just wanted to do something good,” said Svetkova. “We wanted to chip in and do our part. I drove up from La Crosse today. There’s a protest in La Crosse tonight, too, but I figured I’d do more good here.”
The Hexagon Bar was still in flames as members of the Powderhorn Park neighborhood helped clean up: “I’m ‘Peter Parker’ from south Minneapolis. We’ve been locked up so long, and this is an easy way to lighten our spirits, because we’re really feeling the pinch out here. So if you see your friendly neighborhood Spiderman out here, and all these other people getting together to clean up what’s leftover from justice, it’s the least we can do. So protest during the night, clean up during the day. It’s a shame things have gone the way they are, but we can all do a little bit to try to make things at least communal out here.”
Linda Xiong: “I’m from St. Paul. I don’t have many words. I’m still processing.”
Ann Hinrichs: “I just wanted to check out what’s going on. You can see it on the news, but it’s a lot different when you see it in real life. It’s pretty sad to see our city burning down, neighborhoods just destroyed and gone.”
Christie Owens used her car to block traffic for the vigil on 37th and Chicago Avenue: “I wrote on my car a couple days ago. I’ve been putting a lot of June Jordan quotes on it. She’s a black feminist author. She is a visionary, and I feel like that’s what’s needed now. I teach performing arts at Bancroft Elementary School right down the street, and I think the biggest thing for me is that 20 years from now, [a victim of police brutality] could be any one of my black students.”
Henry Gomez: “My friend works as a deejay at the restaurant over there, El Nuevo Rodeo, and I wanted to come here. He works at the radio station, his office is there. He called me, so sad. Minneapolis is a nice city, but I don’t understand much about this.”
Rich Evans stood outside the smoldering remains of the T Mobile and Foot Locker stores on E. Lake Street: “I’m from Powderhorn, and I wanted to see for myself what it is. It’s crazy and sad, at the same time. Hopefully this catches the attention of the right people and all four of the cops will be arrested and convicted. Because if they’re not convicted, this will continue, you know?”
Daniel Grant and Kristie Schmitz swept up glass from the shattered windows of the Hennepin County East Lake Library. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Grant. “There’s a lot of people hurting, and you’ve got to pick up the pieces if you want to rebuild, right?”
Zayer Myint wore a “Do The Right Thing” hoodie outside The Dollar Store on E. Lake Street: “I wanted to see firsthand the reality and frustration in this country. Everybody should do the right thing. Everybody should be accountable. It shouldn’t take laws to do the right thing; it should be human instinct.”
Kayla Richards: “I’m a clinical social worker. [Holy Trinity English Church] has been here for 100 years, a staple in the community. They’ve actually done a really good job of going online and electronically organizing volunteers of all sorts: medics, people with first aid experience, clinical social workers, therapists, and people who can help with the heavy lifting. People are really hurting and traumatized and really afraid.
“I think people have really mixed feelings about the trauma response, which some people are calling ‘rioting.’ I understand the word riot we use to describe what’s going on, but this is a ‘communal trauma response.’ That’s what this is.”
Johnny Riggins: “I stay in that apartment right there, and the fire and the smoke woke me up at about 10 or 10:30 and they evacuated the building and so I had to sit up on the roof and wait out until somebody came. I was up there and I couldn’t get down because I’m a paraplegic and I had to wait for someone to come get me down. Then the smoke cleared but the power is still off and I can’t stop coughing.”
Friday morning on the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, a man sat on the sidewalk near the spot where George Floyd died Monday.
Tenisha, Aniya, Amiyr, and D. Hollie: “I’m from around here, this is my community,” said D. “I’m 41, I grew up around here, so it’s devastating to see. I used to go to this Speedway, this Cup Foods; this neighborhood is ours. Seeing something like that go down bothers me from a standpoint of, ‘Yeah, we’ve got the cellphones recording the whole thing,’ but it was reminiscent of, forgive me for saying, the slave master getting all the slaves to watch one person get lynched, to create the fear. People were asking them to stop, ‘He can’t breathe’ — even George said it a number of times. And what you clearly see is people were hesitant to cross the line. … We’ve tried the way of college, we’ve tried the way of schools, we’ve tried the way of businesses, so what’s left? I’m glad they got the one cop, but they need to get the other three. That’s important.”
Memorial outside Cup Foods in South Minneapolis, a few feet from where George Floyd died Monday.