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At epicenter of Minneapolis riots, a reckoning is underway

Adam Belz, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

"Then we saw gas cans, and after they smashed all the vans they drove some back in there and started them on fire," said Drummer, president of the American Indian nonprofit Migizi. "It just got scarier and scarier."

She left around 2 a.m. and returned at dawn to find the roof of Migizi on fire. She learned last week the building is a total loss, and the insurance coverage isn't enough to rebuild the structure and replace destroyed equipment. The next move is uncertain.

"We will rebuild, but we just don't know where or what that looks like yet," said Drummer, who said she was "paralyzed" for the first couple of weeks after the riots.

She doesn't think her building was targeted but was a random victim of the chaos that ensued when law enforcement vacated the area that Thursday night. And she said she understands the rage on the streets.

"When you have thousands of people feeling that same anger, I don't blame anyone for what happened," Drummer said. "I do think that sometimes it takes destruction in order to rebuild. I really do believe that."

Dozens of GoFundMe sites have been set up for businesses damaged in the riots, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured in for shops and restaurants near the Third Precinct station.

'I'm here for change'

Lamberto Vergara, a native of Mexico who grew up in Brooklyn and moved to the Twin Cities 18 years ago, owns LV's Barbershop, across the street from Gandhi Mahal.

His business didn't burn down, but rioters smashed one of his windows, and Islam said one of his employees pulled a flaming projectile from the barbershop before anything caught on fire.

Weeks after the riot, the place was stripped and Vergara showed two men with clipboards a room in the back.

"All of this was definitely necessary to make change," he said, and "seeing the whole community come together afterwards, seeing all the love from people," has been heartening. He plans to reopen and wants to eventually open a second shop, probably in northeast Minneapolis.

 

"I stand with the community," Vergara said. "If you don't shake the hornet's nest, everything will stay the same. I'm here for change."

Krause watched the looting in his store from his home in southwest Minneapolis through surveillance cameras until someone stole the cameras and DVR that first night.

"Even then I couldn't have anticipated what would occur two nights later," Krause said.

A former lawyer who took over the liquor store from his father when he got sick in the late 1980s, Krause now runs the business with his son. He plans to rebuild bigger than before, with a few units of affordable housing above it.

He said his insurance coverage will be adequate. Now he's waiting for a demolition permit from the city. He needs a survey of the property, which burned in the fire, and learned he has to pay property taxes for the year before he can get a permit to clear the rubble.

Once he gets the site cleared and filled, he'll plant grass, try to navigate the affordable housing regulatory landscape and come up with a building plan.

"I'm looking for energy to rebuild and turn a bad experience for our community, and for me personally, into something positive," Krause said. "I have to put my head down and get to work."

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