I am furious over the senseless and brutal death of George Floyd. It leads to many questions. Why was Floyd restrained that way? How could that police officer keep his knee on Floyd’s neck after a desperate Floyd said he couldn’t breathe? How come the other three Minneapolis police officers stood by and did nothing? How many other times does this happen, but we don't know about it because there’s no video evidence?
The video of Floyd dying is painful to watch. I understand why so many people of color and others are hurting and angry. I am inspired by the peaceful and passionate protesters calling for the end of this kind of brutality and systemic racism. However, I am disheartened by the violent reactions in Minneapolis, Fargo, and around the country.
For no good reason, more than 250 businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul were torched, destroyed, looted or severely damaged. One of them was Scores Sports Bar, which was looted and burned to the ground. It is owned by Korboi and Twyana Balla, who are black. Korboi is also a firefighter.
“As we were standing in the front of the restaurant, people were in the back trying to steal the safe!,” Twyana wrote on Facebook. “Justice for George Floyd, but not this kind of justice.”
“Scores Sports Bar was my DREAM,” Korboi wrote on GoFundMe. “I went to Scores yesterday and all I could do was cry. As a firefighter and public servant, I am used to saving lives and being strong, but this broke me.”
At JL Beers in downtown Fargo, windows and equipment were smashed, supplies were looted, and the beer tap was kept running.
“It’s senseless and unnecessary,” said Aaron Szczur, a manager at JL Beers, and my nephew. “It’s sad, but I’m thankful we’re back in business. We greatly appreciate the police and the volunteers.”
It’s comforting that Black Lives Matters organizers condemned the Fargo violence and joined with other local residents to clean up the huge mess. Fargo Police did an excellent job under tough circumstances, including an alarming attack against two officers in a squad car.
Bridget and Andrew Charon, who grew up in Moorhead, Minn. live in Minneapolis with their two young daughters. They live a few blocks from where George Floyd was murdered and where the riots occurred.
“I am angry that George Floyd was murdered and angry about the riots,” Bridget said. “The rioters are taking advantage of George Floyd’s murder. They don’t care about George Floyd.”
“Our banks, post offices, grocery stores and restaurants we love are destroyed,” Andrew said. “I’m angry, frustrated and confused. I’m afraid someone will burn down our house.”
The smoke is so strong from the nearby fires that the Charons can’t sleep in their house. “It’s heartbreaking,” Bridget said. “I fear for my neighborhood.”
George Floyd should be alive today and his murder should never be forgotten. However, the best way to honor Floyd is to peacefully and strongly push for positive change, not by destroying businesses and frightening neighbors.