The Potluck

Mayor Frey pledges ‘all-out effort’ to restore peace in Mpls., urges calm

By: - May 28, 2020 12:53 pm

The morning after looting and fires broke out across the city. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey pledged an “all-out effort” to restore peace and urged the community to remain calm Thursday morning after peaceful demonstrations against police for the killing of George Floyd turned to looting, riots and fires overnight.

Frey said he hoped Minneapolis would look back at today as a “a time where we picked up the rubble, the glass and found peace in our hearts. Not an ignorant peace, but an awakened one.” 

The first-term mayor, Minneapolis City Council Member Andrea Jenkins and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said they understand Minnesotans’ anger and grief over Floyd’s killing but will not tolerate violence. In the chaos Wednesday night, one man was shot and killed. A crowd-sourced list of businesses damaged in the riots contained more than 75 names by Thursday afternoon, including several that had burned to the ground.

Many of these businesses — like grocery stores —provide essential services, especially during a pandemic, and the fires put already-vulnerable residents at risk, Arradondo said. The vast majority of demonstrators were peaceful, he said, and the department is following up on tips that some who caused destruction are not Minneapolis residents.

“You have no right to perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say you are standing up for,” Jenkins said. “We need peace and calm in our streets, and I am begging you for that.”

The city will work with Black leaders to create a “healing space” at the Third Precinct for community members to grieve and express their anger safely, Jenkins said. 

Frey said that he had asked Gov. Tim Walz for help from the National Guard. The city will also begin to strategize about how to repair damage, which will be difficult given the financial strain of the pandemic and likely increase the city’s need for federal and state assistance, he said.

As Minneapolis leaders ended the press conference Thursday, looters had started breaking into businesses in St. Paul. The protests Wednesday swept a 40-block stretch of Lake Street, and parts of the city’s north and south side were affected as well.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and three other officers involved in the incident were fired Tuesday after a widely circulated video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, killing him. Frey on Wednesday called for Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to charge and arrest Chauvin.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, are scheduled to meet with faith leaders and activists Thursday afternoon at World Outreach for Christ Church, the Star Tribune reported. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is scheduled to meet with elected officials and religious leaders at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at the same time.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.