by Scott McClallen
After the dust settled in the Twin Cities, it’s clear rioters ravaged many businesses owned by minorities and immigrants.
Luis Tamay is an immigrant who saved for longer than 10 years to open his restaurant in South Minneapolis, El Sabor Chuchi, which burned down Friday night as he obeyed curfew, The Star Tribune reported.
“There’s the freezer right there; the kitchen was right there,” Tamay said as he pointed. “Seventeen years of work is gone.”
He lost over $60,000 in restaurant equipment, and he didn’t have insurance. Even if he did, many insurance policies don’t cover riot damages.
A GoFundme has almost recouped the equipment loss, but others weren’t as lucky.
“My Grandpa Max survived the Holocaust and came to Minneapolis as an immigrant with literally nothing. $0,” Todd Sklar tweeted on May 29. “He worked 3 jobs, 1 of which was at his neighborhood liquor store. After many years of saving, he eventually bought that liquor store. Tonight that liquor store is on fire.”
The Tribune reported more than 360 businesses were damaged and 66 burned down in the Twin Cities, hurting owners and consumers.
Many of the businesses vandalized were stores that mainly serve low-income customers, including eight Dollar Stores, an Aldi, and other local markets.
Looters burned down the only store accessible to Stephanie Wilford, a disabled woman from Minneapolis, she told KSTP on Saturday.
“I have no way to get there because the buses aren’t running,” she said, fighting back tears. “These people did this for no reason. It’s not gonna bring George [Floyd] back… This is the only place I could go to shop, and now I don’t have anywhere to go.”
John Phelan, an economist at The Center of The American Experiment, told The Center Square that the riot hit people who were already struggling the hardest.
“One of the worst things I think, is the idea that the businesses that were hit hardest were like big ones like Target or Footlocker, but that’s not true,” Phelan said. “There’s a lot of small businesses down there, startups, immigrant-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and they’ve been completely shattered.”
Phelan said that’s a result of the failure of state and local government to fulfill its core function: to protect life and property.
Gov. Tim Walz called in more than 500 members of the National Guard last Thursday and 7,000 members in response to civil unrest in the Twin Cities by the end of the weekend, but it was too late for many businesses.
“It’s failed the people who need it most, which is the people at the low end of the income scale,” Phelan said. “There really does need to be a reckoning with the state and city government in Minneapolis.”
“Here you have people who have pursued the American dream, and they’ve had their small shop burnt down and their livelihood ruined.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Black-Owned Business” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.