This article was written by Ry Edwards
During the first three nights following the death of George Floyd on May 25, protests, riots and looting caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage, primarily along Lake Street in Minneapolis and University Avenue in St. Paul. On the fourth night, the destruction came to our Camden Community.
After seeing the destruction of the previous nights that dominated the media, several businesses boarded up their windows, anticipating the worst. Some put up messaging on those boards supporting George Floyd or condemning the police. In some cases, owners put up signage to indicate that businesses were Black-owned or immigrant-owned, hoping to dissuade local would-be vandals from attacking their establishments. Little did the business owners know, many people coming to destroy our local businesses were not local protestors, but were instead white supremacists sent into different areas of Minneapolis to create chaos.
Residents along the 4000 block of Fremont reported seeing pick-up trucks decorated in bumper stickers and decals including racial slurs, conspiracy theories, and white supremacist insignias. According to one white couple who grew up in Camden, they were eyewitnesses to trucks cruising back and forth along Fremont for hours on that Friday night. The witnesses say that the trucks contained white men dressed in combat vests. As night fell, those men started planting munitions along the road likely to prepare for others coming in over the weekend to create chaos.
While some businesses, homeowners and people did receive threats and endured vandalism on Saturday and Sunday, the worst damage came at the end of the weekend.
Around 2 a.m. Monday morning, community residents witnessed a truck pull around the back of the businesses on the north side of 44th and Penn Avenues where the truck occupants threw a firebomb onto the roof. Long-time business, Tom’s Barber and Styling Services, along with new businesses, a Boost Mobile franchise, and the recently opened Mailbox Solutions Plus all suffered major damage from the fire.
These businesses have been a source of pride as a sign of growth for the neighborhood as the Camden Community plans even more economic development. Now with the major set-back of the severe fire damage, community leaders are asking for donations from the local neighborhoods to help revive these important ventures.
Those looking to contribute should donate online at GoFundMe.com/f/rebuild-businesses-in-Camden-Minneapolis.