Conflicts & War

Chaos by night, cleaning by day in Minneapolis

By Albert Traver

Minneapolis, US, May 30 (efe-epa).- If the night is synonymous with unrest and chaos in Minneapolis, with the day comes the cleanup, in which hundreds of residents were busy Saturday lending a hand to looted businesses.

Luxurious houses, gardens, a mostly white neighborhood. Nothing before last Monday, when African-American George Floyd died in police custody, sparking a wave of protests, indicated that this affluent neighborhood in southern Minneapolis would become a battlefield.

A police station set alight, vandalized shops and a burning bank – damage to property is extensive, but among the hundreds of volunteers who have come to the area with shovels, brooms and dustpans, stoicism reigns, and in some cases even sympathy towards the protesters.

“Today I knew that my city was suffering and I wanted to do something,” Mike, who lives near the area hardest hit by the riots on Friday, told EFE.

This white, middle-aged man wearing a hat to protect himself from the sun decided to go outside during the day not to protest, but to fix the damage.

When the volunteers begin to arrive, the scene is bleak and many compare it to a battlefield.

The fire at the bank has continued all morning. The smell of smoke permeates the area and the looted business premises are full of broken glass and flooded by fire sprinklers.

Heather has joined this makeshift brigade of volunteers along with a group of friends, almost all of them in their thirties.

“When you see something like this and you see it affecting local businesses and neighborhood families, helping is the best you can do,” she told EFE.

These same reasons were repeated among the group. They do not recognize the Minneapolis of chaos and the destruction that has been broadcast around the world since Floyd’s death on Monday and the outbreak of unrest on Tuesday, although they understand it.

“For us having a week of being scared is nothing compared to always being scared, so what is happening seems to me a blessing… it has forced us to understand,” said Heather’s friend Phil.

Allison is a volunteer cleaning the streets Saturday and who participated in the protests Friday night, although she left early to comply with the curfew that began at 8 pm.

“When you don’t pay attention to a protest, what comes next is riots,” she said.

In a systematic way, the spontaneously organized volunteer brigades go store by store, sweeping up broken glass, removing damaged materials, and draining accumulated water onto the street, while the owners take inventory of the damage.

It is more difficult to take stock at the bank branch and the post office, which were targets of protesters for being government-owned and the structures of which collapsed in the flames.

Among the remains of the bank, Ecuadorian José is not so tolerant of what happened over the past few nights: “I know that we all have the right to protest, but not in this way.”

“There is a problem with the police. With this there may be a change – from everyone, not just from the police,” he reflected. EFE-EPA

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