African and Latino immigrants transformed East Lake Street in Minneapolis into a place bustling with restaurants, nail salons and auto repair joints here and there. Now, they’re watching all their hard work smashed and burned.
Abdishakur Elmi sat in his car Friday watching flames rage from the building next to his Hamdi Restaurant, which he opened after migrating from Somalia in 1996.
“I don’t see the government,” Elmi, 55, told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t see the power.”
Fire had destroyed several nearby businesses along the street, where demonstrators marched to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white police officer knelt on his neck during his arrest.
The crowds smashed storefront windows and even torched the neighborhood’s police station, the newspaper reported. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had deployed the National Guard overnight, but none showed up at Elmi’s eatery.
Elmi and his fellow business owners, many black and Latino, understand the anger over Floyd’s death because they’re angry, too, but they can’t understand the looting, the Times reported.
Some tried stop the looters with messages of solidarity taped in their windows — “African owned business,” for example. The pleas didn’t make a difference; shattered glass littered the street Friday.
The damage reminded Elmi and his restaurant supplier, Mohammoud Abdi, of growing up in Somalia, where the government lost control to militants, they told the Times.
“We don’t have law and order,” said Abdi, 47. “This is not helpful to George’s family.”
Eli Aswan, 50, had to move dozens of cars from the lot he has owned since coming from Tanzania 20 years ago.
He is closing his business for a while after thieves took more than $17,000 worth of auto repair equipment and titles Tuesday and two looters carrying gas cans pried one of the boards off his window, then backed off early Friday.
“It’s too risky,” he told the Times, adding he worries about his sons — 16 and 19 — being profiled by the police.
Eloy Bravo, 50, had been hoping to reopen his ransacked Lupita Nail Salon next week after being closed several weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. Looters snatched more than $10,000 worth of supplies and equipment, including the cash register.
“We were so excited,” Bravo, a native of Puebla, Mexico, told the Times. “Now, I may have to close.”
Then he asked: “What did I do for people to come and destroy what I built in 15 years?”
Author: Melanie Gray