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An immigrant street in Minneapolis is struggling to recover

MINAPOLIS (AP) – Almost all the debris along Lake Street has been removed. The fire-fighting buildings were demolished or repaired. The police station is empty. Its entrance is sealed with concrete blocks, like the tomb of a street corner pharaoh.

The street, which has been the scene of so much violence as protests erupted in Minneapolis after Floyd died in police custody, seems almost normal in some places.

Supermercado Morelia again sells pickles – two dozen types of Mexican cookies. At the Dur Dur grocery store, they returned with goat meat, rice in 20-pound bags, and cheap money transfers to East Africa. Hufan Restaurant Cafe blows the whistle on “Somalia լավագույն America’s Best Cuisine”. Driving in Popeyes is open until 11pm every night.

But look again, because a lot has changed, too – along Lake Street, a beacon of immigrants for more than a century.

The heart of the miles-long trade-cultural corridor is struggling to recover. Politicians are arguing over the restructuring of funds, crime is rampant in the city, the corridor is preparing for more protests as a former police officer is on trial in connection with Floyd’s death on Monday. And even as Minnesota’s infamous winters hit the grassy, ​​spring-like season, the sidewalks of the worst-hit neighborhoods remained silent.

“There is emptiness,” said Chris Montana, founder of Du Nord Craft Spirits, one of America’s few microwave ovens, whose nearby warehouse was looted and set on fire during protests. “Right now you are walking down Lake Street, the only sign of progress is that the piles of rubble have been replaced by empty fields.”

The door to LV Barber Shop is locked and the black hairdressing chairs are laminated in dust. At the time when the Minnehaha Liquors once existed, there was nothing but an old metal sign pointing to an empty lot. There is a dentist who has not returned to work, a bulldozed post office and a Mexican party supplies store that keeps its door closed in the middle of the day because the staff is worried about the crime.

Lake Street is a long way through Minneapolis, from the high-rise bars on the west side of the street, through the commercial enclaves of immigrants, to the high-rise neighborhoods of middle-class cottages that reach the Mississippi River. It paves the way for the life history of the city’s immigrants, the deep-seated inequality.

More than 100 businesses, most of which are run by immigrants or racial minorities, were destroyed or displaced as protests escalated into violence.

Businessmen were already suffering when the riots broke out.

“People were already saving their savings during the first three months of COVID, so when the demolition hit, there was simply no money left to rebuild,” Sharkin said.

“The restoration of the street was a ‘mixed bag,'” he said, “some businesses are still up, and some customers are fleeing the area, unsure of the reopening of stores.”

Anger against politicians and law enforcement agencies is deepening among business owners.

“I called 911. There is no help,” said Abe Demmaj, an Ethiopian immigrant whose small furniture store was almost empty by robbers. “I called the city hall. Called Angets Marzpetaran. “

Since then, almost all of the aid has come from donations and private grants.

State support is entangled in a serious party-geographical division. Republican lawmakers are pushing back from a budget proposed by Democratic Gov. Tim Waltz, which includes $ 150 million in Minneapolis. For the reconstruction of enterprises in Paul

The majority of the state Democratic House, with its municipal support base, has largely supported Waltz. But Minnesota’s rural community is overwhelmingly Republican, with a Senate majority opposed to Minneapolis rescue aid. Republican leaders have blamed another Democrat, Jacob Frey, the mayor of Wallis and Minneapolis, saying they did not end the riot quickly enough.

The Lake Street Board estimates that small businesses along the corridor have suffered some $ 250 million in unsecured damage, from broken windows to large buildings that were to be demolished.

“Big fish can survive without help,” said Pinky Patel, whose family dry-cleaning business was looted, partially burned and without adequate insurance. “It’s a problem for us.”

Outbreaks erupted on May 25 after Floyd’s death, a black man who said he could not breathe as Officer Derek Shavin squeezed Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes during his arrest.

Filmed by a casual observer, the arrest sparked waves of protests across the country, promoting a national racial justice record.

Shavin, who is on trial for murder, worked in the third block of the department, in a Lake Street facility, which quickly became the target of insurgents. Eventually, police left the station as protesters took it and set it on fire.

The station is located in the heart of Lake’s working-class immigrant neighborhoods, where racial և ethnicity և language is mixed together.

“Everyone here is welcome,” said Patel, an immigrant from India. “No matter what language you speak, you are accepted. And you will find at least one person who can talk to you. ”

For more than a century, neighbors hailed immigrants as newly arrived Norwegians, Germans, and Swedes shopped on Lake Street. When some neighborhoods fell into poverty in the 1970s and 1980s, leaving cheap shops and empty buildings, new waves of immigrants brought them.

First came the Somalis and Ethiopians, who were fleeing war and poverty. Then came Latin, many from Mexico. Immigrant entrepreneurs have falsified middle-class lives by serving their working-class neighbors who could not afford to shop in the more exclusive neighborhoods of Lake Street.

“Immigrants created this community,” Demmaaj said. “If you wanted to be an entrepreneur, this was the place to build something. Restaurants, daylight hours, shops. “

Over the past few decades, the district has become home to war refugees, hipsters, Somali restaurants, and small nightclubs. You can now purchase $ 3,000 worth of bicycles in the Lake Street Immigrant Corridor և և 10 bags of Mexican candy to fill the party pinatas (filling in with warnings in Spanish և English for brushing your teeth).

Many hope that the end of Shovin’s trial will mark the beginning of a real recovery. They are convinced that they are convinced that the conviction is a preliminary conclusion. Patel said the officer’s actions were “inhumane.”

But while the jury was being selected, new graffiti began to appear around Lake Street, ominous messages written in black spray paint. “No justice, no street.”


Find the full AP coverage of Floyd’s death here: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd


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