Block by block, volunteers help damaged businesses on Lake Street

Eric Chaloux
Updated: May 28, 2020 10:16 PM
Created: May 28, 2020 09:02 PM

It started with a social media post by a neighborhood group around the Phillips Neighborhood to meet in a parking lot on Lake Street on Thursday to help small business owners clean up after violence the night before.

"We live here that's why you see children, we just want everyone to take ownership of their neighborhood and love your neighbor, this is love in action right now," said Ming-Jinn Tong who helped co-organize the event that brought out volunteers of all ages.

Brooms, trash bags and shovels were set up for volunteers to use to clean up the damage along Lake Street in Minneapolis that stemmed by some protestors turning to violence and destruction after George Floyd’s death.

Block after block of businesses had broken windows, some looted or had graffiti.

"We can all play a part and come together and help,” said Nick Stromwall, who co-organized the clean-up.

The volunteers walked the block, stepping over broken glass from storefronts including many small, locally-owned shops.

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"I was extremely upset and frustrated with what's happening around us, it's unfortunate they even had to go to this level, said Tabota Seyon, who owns a shop on Lake Street. “You can understand where the anger is coming from but it's unfortunate that its misdirected anger is how I really feel about it, to be honest."

"It's sad, they didn't have to do us like this, we have nothing over here anymore, there's nothing here it's like a war zone," said LaTiffany Lessley, who lives off Lake Street.

The windows were shattered and the school rooms were ransacked at MTS Secondary off Lake Street.

LaTrice Butchee was sweeping up some glass outside the school on Thursday afternoon.

She pointed out what was left of a room where she recently sat with her son as they planned out his college options not too long ago.

"To have more barriers piled up on them and challenges, it seems very defeating,” said Butchee. “But God is real and I trust him and I pray that we can all unify as one body, strategize and get ahold of our emotions."

Paul Jones lives in the neighborhood and seeing the volunteers just offer to help strangers in need brought him comfort.

"This is exactly what we need,” Jones said. “This influence, is going to be a really, really, really, really turn around for what just happened you don't see stuff like this here...it makes my heart fill with joy."


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