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At epicenter of Minneapolis riots, a reckoning is underway

Adam Belz, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

"Minnesota is ground zero for change, for revolution, for the movement," Islam said. "The whole world is looking at Minneapolis. We have to lead by example."

'An opportunity to destroy'

Across the street from Gandhi Mahal, the bathroom in the Wilson Law Group building became the "port-a-potty" of the riot, said David Wilson, who owns the building.

Somebody smashed the glass door off of Minnehaha Avenue and spray-painted the word "RestRoom" on the wall in blue with an arrow down the hall. Eventually someone tore out the toilet, flooding the bathroom.

Wilson walked through after the riots to check circuit breakers and meet insurance adjusters, with whom he anticipated a fight. The carpet was scattered with broken glass. Someone had tried to remove computer servers from the basement.

As an immigration lawyer, Wilson battles the U.S. government in courtrooms and said he knows how "rights can slide off the table quickly."

 

But he watched the protests spin out of control and saw flames crawl along a power line between his building and the liquor store before it melted and fell. For him, the distinction between protesting and rioting is clear.

"Demonstrating your commitment to change and demanding it from leadership is important, and the First Amendment is sacred," Wilson said. "The moment though that people are just using it as an opportunity to destroy, no conscience, no regard for what they're doing? No. No, the First Amendment doesn't protect that."

'We will rebuild'

When people broke into the post office and drove postal vans around next door, Kelly Drummer and her daughter watched from a window.

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