The interior of the Cub Foods grocery store at 2850 Twenty-Sixth Avenue South in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr.

Minnesota Arts Organizations Damaged During Riots Fundraise to Cover Losses

Juxtaposition Arts, the Somali Museum, and Hmong Cultural Center are among the Minnesota arts organizations that are raising funds to repair damage that occurred during the riots and looting that took place in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

According to the Star Tribune, over the course of five nights, more than five hundred shops and restaurants across Minneapolis and Saint Paul sustained damages. A five-mile stretch of Lake Street in South Minneapolis, an area that has historically attracted immigrants, also took a heavy blow, and business owners who were already struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic are now assessing whether they can rebuild. 

The destruction has prompted Minneapolis residents to blame the local government for not doing more to protect people’s property and has even led some to accuse officials of intentionally not helping small businesses so that they could push forward with redevelopment plans. Some companies have chosen to leave the city as a result. “We are not interested in replacing these local entrepreneurs, especially those of color, who have made these neighborhoods such wonderful corridors,” Mayor Jacob Frey said. “They need to stay, and we’re going to help them.”

More than sixty small-business owners have launched GoFundMe accounts and are appealing to the community for support, and as of Saturday more than $3 million were crowdsourced for recovery costs. Kianmehr Ehtiatkar, who moved with his family from Iran to Minnesota over a decade ago, started a page for his father’s used-car lot and received nearly $50,000 as well as an outpouring of support.

“The power of social media and peoples’ compassion is amazing,” Ehtiatkar told the Star Tribune. “I was getting notes from random people in Hong Kong and other countries around the world who said they were feeling oppression from their police departments. It was chilling.”

Regarding the Springboard for the Arts—a Saint Paul–based, artist-led organization dedicated to economic and community development that reported fire and property damage—executive director Laura Zabel stressed that the organization does not want to distract from the current fight against police violence. “We want the focus to be on justice for George Floyd and the many organizers who are demanding an end to the white supremacy and racism that is baked into our systems and our city.”