A Photo Essay By Sahra Qaxiye

Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” 2020 has been a year of both. George Floyd’s murder, asked and answered, so many hard questions about racial inequality and police brutality in this country. On the evening of May 25, 2020, 4 Minneapolis Police Officers responded to a forgery report resulting in the arrest of George Floyd. The 8 minutes and 46 seconds that followed would cost a man his life and in turn spark worldwide protests. For some, the idea that the system of policing in this country isn’t one that is meant to protect and serve ALL people, is a hard reality. For some, seeing black bodies killed on camera by the very people who we are supposed to turn to for protection, isn’t a novel experience. To the many that are just now seeing these realities; now is the time to have these uncomfortable, yet necessary conversations.

As civil unrest spreads, protestors clash with police and in turn they are met with tear gas, rubber bullets, stun guns, and other crowd control strategies used by law enforcement. Although these are considered non-lethal responses, these tactics can injure when used improperly. As protests continue to flare up across the country, disturbing videos show aggressive police tactics used against protestors and even journalists. Although many have gone unanswered, a few of those incidents have led to disciplinary action taken against police officers involved.

Third day of protests in Minneapolis brings demonstrators to the front of the Government Center, demanding the arrest of all 4 police officers involved in the death of George Floyd. After gathering here, the crowd peacefully marches through downtown Minneapolis.

Late Thursday night, protestors burned down the 3rd Precinct. Officers evacuated the building after a few protestors tore down the wire fence that surrounded it. In a historic moment during these protests, police vehicles poured out of the precinct as rioters stormed in; setting the building ablaze. Anger, and frustration amongst the crowd that gathered was as thick as the smoke and fire that hung above. Pockets of people chanted with fists in the air as other cheered the burning and destruction going on.

Minnehaha Liquors continued to burn down well past midnight and into early Friday morning. People gathered around the burning buildings, watching as the fires consumed them. Some people warned the crowd of a possible gas leak, but even the possibility of a gas explosion didn’t stop people from staying. Some people set off fireworks as others dragged objects into the middle of the street, creating a barricade to prevent cops from entering the area.

The crowd looks on as the Arby’s near the 3rd Precinct is burned down on Thursday night.

The charred ruins of the sign sit in the middle of rubble. Minnehaha Liquors has been in the neighborhood since it was legal to sell alcohol. That neon sign and the building itself is an iconic part of Lake Street.

Volunteers at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Midway packing up donations for people to pick up. Community efforts to help those in need of help have been popping up everywhere in the Twin Cities.

Scenes of boarded up buildings still open for business is not an uncommon thing to see these days in Minneapolis. Lake street businesses have dealt with two major forces these last two months and whether it’s a major pandemic forcing them to close their doors or being ground zero for a national uprising; Lake street is resilient.

On June 4th, 2020 George Floyd’s family held a funeral memorial at North Central University in Minneapolis. Shortly after, people gathered at the memorial on 38th & Chicago to pay their respect and celebrate his life. Both Reverend Jesse Jackson and members of Floyd’s family came to speak to the crowds gathered there, expressing their gratitude and emphasizing the need to continue making noise until permanent and wide spread change is achieved.

Read Reflections and Commentary from Local Food and Drink Industry Members of Color