Saturday, December 4

Minneapolis on the Test: How the George Floyd Year Changed Me and My City | Minneapolis

At 9.52pm on March 8, 2020, my university sent an email telling students that we would start our spring break a week early due to a possible case of Covid-19 on campus.

What they couldn’t tell us at the time is that over the course of the two weeks, I would fly home to Minnesota, fly back to campus in New York to move, and fly back home to finish classes at my family’s house. .

There was no way of knowing that just two months later he would be experiencing the largest civil rights uprising since the 1960s, which swept across the country from Minneapolis and St Paul, sometimes known as the Twin Cities, after police killed. George Floyd.

That was in addition to the rapidly developing global pandemic that forced me to study from my childhood room.

It’s an almost dissociative feeling to see downtown Minneapolis, the city you grew up in for 20 years, burn when you live just a few minutes’ drive from the flames, in the neighborhood of St Paul’s Como.

No apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movie could prepare me for the things I saw.

After the initial riots, there was an eerie atmosphere during the day, as police vehicles and National Guard tanks casually patrolled the streets. As soon as the sun set, the scene turned into what looked like a war zone as protesters armed with medical remedies clashed with armed police in riot gear.

I did not protest the first two days after George Floyd’s murder because my mother was concerned that I would be arrested or killed.

Flames rise from the janitorial tent near the Third Police Station on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Flames rise from the janitorial tent near the Third Police Station in Minneapolis on May 28, 2020. Photograph: Kerem Yucel / AFP / Getty Images

Protest flyers and social media events begged me to take action. On the third day, I decided that I couldn’t let others fight our battle alone, so I took to the streets.

One protest turned into two, the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months of protests, as much as my body and my mental capacity could bear.

I went from partying at my university before the pandemic to protesting in my home state. It became normal to leave the house at 10 in the morning to protest and not return until nightfall, due to the curfew, after attending two or three different demonstrations.

Lake Street, a few miles from where George Floyd died and the battlefield of the night one of the riots, was a dystopian sight.

The Wells Fargo bank whose free lollipops I craved as a kid was completely charred by cars that caught fire in the drive-thru.

The exterior was lined with the few desks and office supplies that survived the fire. The ATMs had been opened and left empty. Broken glass creaked under my feet.

Black smoke still rose from the ash piles that were once buildings, for miles. It is surreal to see how the streets that hold so many memories are reduced to practically nothing.

The vast majority of the protests remained peaceful even when violence was carried out against the protesters.

Large-scale global protests showed the world that a “good problem” for change is possible.

I think it is important to make it clear that protesters and rioters are not synonymous. Most of the riots were started by instigators who crossed state lines or came from outside the city to intentionally cause destruction and undermine the movement.

People march in the street during a rally on June 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
People march in the street during a rally on June 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. Photograph: Brandon Bell / Getty Images

At the same time, some riots are expressions of extreme frustration and anger that overflow. I did not think that the level of frustration and anger mixed with the motivation and dedication that I possessed in those months was possible.

For weeks I had a throbbing headache near the back of my neck. I slept but never rested due to paranoia that the police or white supremacists who had come to counter the civil rights protesters could harm me.

I woke up to paragraphs from people explaining why the deaths of George Floyd and other black bodies were justified.

I woke up to other messages from close friends and acquaintances asking me if I was safe and encouraging me to keep fighting.

Out of the ashes and rubble, a revolution was formed. A revolution that reflects those in which my grandmother was born in Arkansas during the 60s.

In his youth, he vividly recalls the traumatic experiences of whites who refused to serve their family on a road trip to Mississippi and his white third-grade teacher called black students the N word.

Segregation was shown through blacks living on one side of the railroads, whites living on the other side, and blacks sitting upstairs in theaters.

Eventually he moved to Minnesota, where he thought there would be a lot less racism; now she knows she was wrong.

“The south was more in your face. In Minnesota they try to hide it more, but here the same things are happening, “he said.

A man stands sheltered from the rain on June 18, 2020, in Minnesota, Minneapolis.
A man is sheltered from the rain on June 18, 2020 in Minneapolis. Photograph: Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Since my grandmother was a child, the world has changed in many ways, but the fight for justice has been the same for centuries.

Now that the cameras are gone and the protests more sporadic, the world seems to have passed last summer.

The voices that once echoed in the downtown buildings have become a murmur. But Minnesota remembers it. We cannot go back to normal. As I drive through the icy streets that I spent the summer marching through, I feel a sense of nostalgia and foreshadowing.

I am sure that in the coming weeks I will march through these streets again.

On March 8, 2021, exactly one year after I opened that email from my university, former officer and George Floyd’s killer Derek Chauvin will be tried in Minneapolis. The same is true, in effect, with the police department, the city, and the criminal justice system itself.

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