DFL lawmakers want the state and federal governments to chip in to help repair the estimated $55 million in damage caused to Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus called for “immediate legislative funding for Minneapolis and St. Paul rebuilding efforts” in a joint statement.
“The devastation that has hit Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding communities will require all of us to come together to do our part and ensure they have the help, access to resources, and infrastructure they need to rebuild and heal their community,” said the Monday statement.
“That is why we are calling for immediate access to legislative funds, for the community, to address this emergency situation. In order to ensure the security and well-being of the communities impacted it is imperative that we act promptly and do everything we can within our legislative power to help,” it added.
Lawmakers are expected to return to St. Paul this month for a special session and Gov. Tim Walz said he would like to see financial support for Minneapolis’s Lake Street included in a public infrastructure bill, The Star Tribune reported. The city’s Community Planning and Economic Development division informed city leaders this week that an estimated 220 buildings were vandalized or destroyed during the riots, causing at least $55 million in damage. The final figure will likely exceed the $55 million estimate and doesn’t include the damage in the neighboring city of St. Paul.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) announced that she will introduce a bill to create an “Emergency Relief Fund” specifically for “communities trying to rebuild after social and civil rights crises.” Omar, who represents the Minneapolis area in Congress, said the fund would allow cities and businesses harmed by civil unrest to apply for federal grants.
“We have a moral responsibility to help communities heal economically. Minneapolis’s economy has been ravaged. Families are struggling to find places to buy food, local shop owners fear they’ll never open their doors again, and many workers find themselves without a job to return to. The situation facing our city stems from a long history of discrimination, prejudice and violence in the community,” Omar said in a press release.
“It is no less worthy of federal relief than communities facing natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic,” she continued. “But we cannot rely on a Presidential Emergency Declaration to help direct FEMA resources to riot relief. Our current president has proven we cannot depend on such intervention. So Congress must step in.”
A local non-profit called Lake Street Council has already raised $4.9 million to help with the rebuilding effort.
“We are overcome with gratitude for the outpouring of support for our Minneapolis businesses,” the group said. “It will take millions of dollars to rebuild, and over 57,000 people have chipped in to make that a reality.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minneapolis Damage from Riots” by Fibonacci Blue. CC BY 2.0.