Business Owners are bracing for more riots.
The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is coming to a close. The prosecution and defense have made closing arguments on Monday over his role in Floyd’s death. The owners of downtown Minneapolis businesses are bracing for the possibility of yet more unrest as the jury reveals their verdict.
American business owners worry that a not-guilty verdict or even a manslaughter conviction could set off another round of riots. Even if Chauvin is convicted of murder, many worry that the celebration of a conviction could turn destructive. The shooting and death of Daunte Wright on April 11 by a police officer in Brooklyn, and the subsequent unrest in that city, has only added to the tension in Minneapolis. The downtown streets are filled with National Guard troops and law-enforcement officers. City leaders have urged business owners to double-check their insurance policies, and make sure that they’re covered in the event of riots.
It’s not protesting. It’s vandalism.
Many weary downtown business owners have boarded their windows to protect against looters. Restaurant owner David Fhima refuses to board up his windows though. He feels it will send the wrong message.
Last years riots left Fhima’s business ransacked and vandalized. Rioters slashed his booths with knives, fired guns, and destroyed his point-of-sale systems. They didn’t stop there though. Rioters stole expensive bottles of wine and liquor, and smashed even more on the floor, including an $18,000 bottle of Louis XIII cognac. The vandals did almost a half million dollars of damage to Fhima’s restaurant. If you think his insurance covered the damage, you’d be wrong. He only received partial reimbursement, and was forced to close his business for more than two months following the incident.
When Fhima saw the remains of his restaurant, he was disheartened and distraught. He stated that it was not as much about the financial hit, as it was about how the damage was caused. The vandalism and looting has to stop.
“This is the community that we live in,” Fhima said. “This is the community that we do a lot of good in, that we volunteer. This shouldn’t be the community that hurts us.”
Fhima has chosen to have faith in the police and city leaders to protect his business, and he hopes to see people exercise their First Amendment rights peacefully.
Minneapolis Businesses remain hopeful that law enforcement will be able to protect them.
Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the MPLS downtown council, described the city’s mood as “very tense.” The anxiety and fear of what is to come has only ramped up after Wright’s death. A significant number of businesses have already boarded up their windows, after the rioting and looting that occurred in Brooklyn Center.
“Those images on TV just brought back a lot of really difficult memories,” Cramer said.
Cramer has urged businesses not to board up, and to have faith in authorities and their plan to protect the city. Many city leaders and residents are expecting more unrest in the days to come. While all communities have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, and many downtowns have dealt with some level of civil unrest, Minneapolis’s situation is a unique one.
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