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Minneapolis firefighters criticize fire chief’s response following Floyd killing

AutoZone auto parts store
TWITTER/RALIYAXSI/via REUTERS
An AutoZone auto parts store on fire during the second night of protests.

The Star Tribune’s Miguel Otárola writes: “Firefighters within the Minneapolis Fire Department are criticizing their leaders’ response in the nights of unrest following the killing of George Floyd, challenging the fire chief who did not call in major reinforcements as gas stations, post offices and businesses burned across the city. Chief John Fruetel relied on mobile units of firefighting crews and increased staff by about 10 during the height of the unrest. He did not follow St. Paul’s example in calling in more off-duty firefighters and, with one exception, did not call surrounding city fire departments for help.”

For the Forum News Service, Dana Ferguson writes: “Gov. Tim Walz said he wouldn’t immediately heed the call from business owners around the state to allow businesses to fully open Friday and urged them to help enforce safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The comments come after local chambers of commerce around the state, trade groups and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce pressed the governor to reopen the state by June 19. They argued the state was seeing its COVID-19 cases drop and businesses should have the ability to come back online with safety precautions.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes: “The Minnesota Historical Society this week laid off 176 furloughed employees and brought 64 back to work, as it prepares to reopen select locations that have been shuttered since March by the COVID-19 pandemic. MNHS temporarily closed all 26 of its historic sites and museums across the state on March 14 and furloughed 274 employees — just under half its staff — on May 1. Those who were not laid off or recalled this week have had their furloughs extended, according to a spokesperson for the 171-year-old nonprofit institution based in St. Paul.”

At MPR, Riham Feshir says, “VJ Smith, president of MAD DADS, an organization working to mentor young men of color and help reduce violence, said the community should be able to provide input in shaping the Police Department and getting rid of racist cops. ‘We have to have police, but we also need to look at: How do we police better?’ he said. ‘How do we get rid of officers that don’t have our best interest, officers that don’t even live in the community, don’t care about the community but come in to actually do harm to our people.’ To Smith, defunding the police means diverting dollars from the Minneapolis Police Department to other social services in order to reduce crime.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Libor Jany, “Nine people were wounded by gunfire across Minneapolis on Tuesday, including a two-hour span that saw eight shot, adding to a recent rash of violence since last month’s unrest over the police killing of George Floyd. Police Department statistics show that a record 149 people have been shot since the start of the year; nearly half of those happened within the past three weeks.”

MPR’s John Enger reports, “Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been working on a rapid testing system to detect chronic wasting disease for more than a year. The goal is to develop a test that will determine whether a deer is infected with the fatal disease. The next step is to determine how the deer got infected in the first place. … Nearly $250,000 from the University’s Minnesota Futures program will partially fund a new research project designed to get a much more precise idea about how the disease spreads.”

From BringMeTheNews: “More jobs have been claimed by the coronavirus pandemic, with Life Time confirming Wednesday that it’ll lay off 1% of its workforce as a result of significant financial downturn over the past 3-4 months. Life Time sent a mass layoffs report to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that says 250 employees at its Chanhassen headquarters will be laid off permanently by Aug. 18, with another 51 employees being laid off at its Millworks facility in Chaska.”

Also at City Pages, this from Jay Boller, “The future is uncertain for Fuji-Ya, Minnesota’s first-ever Japanese restaurant.  This much we know: The sushi institution has left its Minneapolis home at 600 W. Lake St. The building is currently bank-owned and for sale, says Adam Barrett, the listing agent with real estate firm Carlson Partners. … On May 7, after weeks of offering take-out during the COVID-19 shutdown, Fuji-Ya announced a temporary closure via its Facebook page. Now, its website simply reads: ‘Thank you for your support. Unfortunately we are closing our doors.’”

The Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III writes: “Twins infielder Miguel Sano and a lawyer in his hometown exchanged frightening accusations Tuesday, a newspaper in the Dominican Republic reported. El Nuevo Diario said Sano postponed a Wednesday news conference that would have explained his side of a dispute in which he is accused of kidnapping a man in San Pedro de Macoris six weeks ago. Sano also said he was being blackmailed.

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