Minneapolis business owners hit with bills from riot damage. They are crippling – and insurance is no help.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – In Denver, Colorado business owners have new glass in storefront windows. In Chicago, Illinois boards still cover stores on the Magnificent Mile and Jewelers Row.

And, in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, arguably the epicenter of the summer’s civil unrest, the rebuilding of businesses has already begun.

Perhaps more shocking than the damage itself is the sticker shock business owners are experiencing as they begin to recover from riots that were far out of their control.

The Star Tribune reported that the city of St. Paul just had to pass along perhaps its first big bill tied to the aftermath of the riots.

The paper says that a construction crew hired by the city to tear down the Sports Dome retail complex billed $140,000 for the demolition.

Rioters destroyed the complex during Black Lives Matter protests that have continued on for months following the death of Minnesota man George Floyd while in police custody.

While the city may have been the ones to call for demolition and hire the crew, it was only serving as the middle man.

It will not be on taxpayers to cover the tab. The Tribune reported that the city forwarded the bill to the owners, and it amounted to nearly six times what their insurance company would cover for demolition.

Jay Kim told the media outlet that he owns the property. He said his insurance policy covers up to $25,000 for demolition. Kim said:

“We were really upset about that. We thought that was high. But we didn’t know how much demolition would cost at the time.”

It’s the latest twist for 1,500 Minnesota business owners who have been unwilling riders on a riot rollercoaster for months now.

Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council Andrea Jenkins told the Tribune that she believes the companies hired to tear down destroyed buildings and businesses are profiting off the tragedy.

She called it “price gouging” and encouraged business owners to “contact the attorney general.

Jenkins was one of the city leaders who supported abolishing the Minneapolis Police Department before the spike in violent crime because of the riots.

In June, she posted to Facebook about the unrest in the city:

“The level of violence in our communty right now is heartbreaking and we are just 2 days into summer. We need everyone to step forward and stand up for justice.

The vitriol, the name calling and finger pointing only adds to the frustration levels.

We need people to come together with solutions, myself and others at the city will be putting together a series of working/listening sessions to develop a long term Public Safety Continuum, in the meantime however WE must stop the violence.”

As rioters leave the street with few repercussions, small business owners are left with not just damage but now questions.

With costs so high for demolition, the Tribune reports that rebuilding projects have hit pause leaving the twin cities with burned buildings and stacks of rubble.

It is a path of problems carved by rioters with few fixes to date.

Some property owners told the newspaper that they’ve begged city officials to intervene, by seeking public bids for work. They believe it is the only way to prevent contractors from taking advantage of inexperienced business people and immigrants and minority owned businesses.

KARE 11 TV reports that some business owners have not even made it to the point of working with contractors, because they’ve been unable to leap the hurdle of getting a demolition permit.

Minnesota state law says that local property taxes have to be paid in full and to date before a structure can be demolished and cleared from a lot.

Last month, the TV station reported that the City of Minneapolis agreed in August to waive that permitting requirement for properties damaged in the riots.

But, the costs of construction or demolition will still follow. That is a one two punch in a year that’s already slammed small business owners with the freeze of a pandemic and the economic downturn that followed.

It’s a domino effect of disaster that does not appear to be over yet.

On August 27, Journalist Andy Ngo tweeted:

“BLM rioting broke out again last night in Minneapolis after police were blamed for a black male who committed suicide. Here, they hurled a metal projectile at an officer’s head and knocked him to the ground.”

Another Twitter user by the name of “Ceasar Livingston” posted the day before:

“Minneapolis is burning for a second time because a black man killed himself in front of police. Just shows this has nothing to do with police or race but the fact people just want anarchy.”

As we reported earlier this week, in light of recent events, such as the riots that plagued Minneapolis, you’d think that business owners would consider investing in a means to protect their businesses from looting – such as security shutters.

However, thanks to a 16-year-old zoning code in the city, business owners aren’t allowed to have and install security shutters. The reason why: because it makes the city appear “unsafe”.

Back in 2004, Minneapolis banned exterior security shutters on non-residential buildings. But the reality of today’s Minneapolis versus the desire to maintain good optics over a decade ago just no longer seems compatible.

Minneapolis zoning code chapter 535 reads as follows:

“Exterior security barriers. No retractable metal security gates or grilles shall be placed on the exterior of any portion of an enclosed principal non-residential building façade facing a public street.”

Now – try to contemplate the logic behind enforcing that after close to 1,500 businesses in the city were heavily damaged or outright destroyed during the riots that began in late May.

We’ve seen acts of arson, copious amounts of looting and strong-armed robbery, blatant vandalism in the form of smashing windows – but metal shutters will somehow look bad on businesses after they close up shop for the day.

Between the estimates of business owners and insurance experts, there’s been roughly $500 million worth in damage done to Minneapolis businesses which stem directly from the riots.

Chicago-Lake Liquors owner John Wolf was one of the many who suffered immense loss from the riots in Minneapolis, and is challenging the existence of zoning laws that will prevent him from establishing a means to fortify and protect his business in the future.

Wolf’s store had $1 million worth of alcohol stolen from the establishment, and the windows alone are going to cost $50,000 to replace:

“I am going to spend millions of dollars to bring my business back, and I don’t want to buy 20 window panes and have them broken the first day. Property owners should have options on how to protect themselves.”

Numerous business owners are pushing back against this ordinance that aims to only keep the city visually pleasing when businesses close up shop.

While there is a variance people can apply for to be granted the use of exterior shutters, there’s been reportedly only one application historically ever filed and it wasn’t granted.

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Not to mention, I’m not sure if any officials have walked around Minneapolis lately – but it’s current state looks more like Aleppo, Syria rather than any American city.

Dean Rose, the owner of Broadway Liquor Outlet in Minneapolis, also lost half-a-million in inventory due to looting during the riots and spent $30,000 just to replace his windows. He said that there has to be some kind of middle ground between appeasing the city in terms of outward appearances of businesses and protecting one’s investment:

“I think there is a way you can make an aesthetically pleasing security barrier that doesn’t give a derogatory impression to somebody. The reality is, certain businesses needed to be protected because they are hot spots that people go to loot because of what’s inside.”

In light of what the city has experienced, Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said she’s “open” to considering granting businesses the opportunity to install security shutters – while also still admonishing the way that the shutters look:

“New York has metal shutters that come down at night, and it really does look like a fortress, so I think there were some valid reasons for instituting that ordinance. But everything is subject to change. So, I would be open to looking at it given the new realities we are in.”

All this for the sake of mere appearances.

That would be like banning fire extinguishers from hotel hallways because they might cause concern that there’s a fire risk in a hotel or that it disrupts the feng shui of the wall décor. Or banning bullet-proof glass from banks because it implies every customer is a potential robber.

This is insanity – and after 16 years of this code and the recent riots, Jenkins should be far beyond “open” to exploring the possibility of allowing security shutters. That measure should have been allowed since the beginning of June.  

It’s worth flashing back to what happened in the city in the end of August.

Multiple stores in downtown Minneapolis were ransacked and looted by several groups of people after a homicide suspect took his own life on Nicollet Mall.  

According to Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, law enforcement are working tirelessly to restore the calm in the downtown area. Social media shows various posts of people damaging items in a Target, as well as breaking windows of surrounding stores.

Earlier in the evening, Haskell’s Liquor Store, the Medical Arts building, a Nordstrom, and Saks Off 5th were also looted.  Schnell said that people were throwing bottles and setting off commercial grade fireworks as well as reports of shots being fired.

According to reports, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is among the law enforcement groups that are helping respond to the looting.

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said in a statement:

“We’ve got cops from all over the Twin Cities coming out here to maintain order because the citizens of Minneapolis and Hennepin County deserve to feel safe. The people causing problems are going to jail tonight.”

In addition to law enforcement taking measures to restore order in downtown, Metro Transit light rail service on the Blue and Green lines have been stopped going into downtown Minneapolis. Trains and buses also will not be serving the area until further notice.

The Minneapolis State Patrol has also been deployed to help quell the rising tensions in the downtown area. Both the Governor and Mayor of Minneapolis posted comments on Twitter calling for the unrest to cease.

Mayor Jacob Frey said:

“Destruction will not be tolerated.”

Allegedly, in the aftermath of the homicide suspect taking his own life, people gathered around the crime scene and started rumors on social media that the suspect was shot by police. This is not true and to refute the rumors early on, the Minneapolis Police Department held a press conference where they shared video of the incident from a city surveillance camera.

The video shows the suspect allegedly shooting himself. Below is the graphic video:

Police were actively following the suspect because of his possible connection to a deadly shooting that happened just hours before at a parking ramp downtown. Fox News reported that Minneapolis police began investigating the deadly shooting at the Ramp A parking structure in downtown early in the day.

Police spokesman John Elder said that on Wednesday, August 26th, around 2:10 p.m., officers responded to a shooting at the parking ramp near N 10th Street and Currie Avenue. Upon arrival, they found a deceased man with an apparent gunshot wound. 

Elder said that a man and a woman left the scene just prior to the police arriving. Officers found the woman and she has been detained for questioning. Based off the preliminary investigation, officers believe that the three people got into a dispute and at one point, a person pulled out a gun and shot at the man. Elder said that the people know each other, and that this is not a random act of violence.

A curfew went into effect immediately Wednesday night. Mayor Frey said that the bolstering of law enforcement is an effort to “stay ahead of the game as much as possible.” According to reports, crowds shattered glass at various businesses downtown along and near Nicollett Mall. 

The looting spread a couple of blocks south of Nicollett Mall to a strip mall, and there were reports of smash-and-grabs spreading west to Hennepin Avenue. The State Patrol reported that as of 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, six people had been arrested for burglary, and two for violating the curfew. 

Police said that one officer was seriously injured when they were hit by an object during the unrest. The officer was taken to a nearby hospital. 

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Here is another article from Law Enforcement Today about the violence and looting in Minneapolis:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN –  More updates are coming out of Minneapolis regarding the riots that have been ongoing. We at Law Enforcement Today noted on May 28th that the National Guard was en route to the scene. 

During the evening of the 28th, 500 soldiers from the National Guard were deployed to the city, with video coming forward of members arriving in armored vehicles. 

During the third night of protests and rioting, the 3rd Police Precinct became engulfed in flames. Officers were actually forced to retreat from the police station due to concerns over the growing fire. Video has cropped up of squad vehicles pulling out of the precinct, while people begin to hurl objects toward said police vehicles. 

Among the burning police station and city that doesn’t come close to resembling what it looked like a week ago, there were also unconfirmed reports coming in related to a possible kidnapping taking place while the chaos ensued. 

Reportedly over 170 businesses have been vandalized or looted during the period of the riots. 

More and more businesses have been getting destroyed, with photos and videos now showcasing a ransacked Goodwill, a NAPA Auto Parts store set on fire, a furniture outlet getting looted, and many more examples of blatant destruction and criminal acts. 

Exactly where does this all end? If this continues, there will be nothing left of the city that many call their home. 

Can anyone explain to us how looting and burning down buildings somehow honors the memory of George Floyd?

Yeah – that’s what we thought.

While the situation was developing on the 28th, reportedly five people had already been shot in the mayhem, with one confirmed as dead, and dozens of buildings being burned and vandalized.

During the protests and riots, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo confirmed that there was a breach of police department property by some of the crowds of people on the street.

Chief Arradondo noted that he did authorize the use of tear gas by officers in response to said breach:

“I did direct our officers to deploy gas once a secure fence was breached, and those individuals, again not all, but some of those individuals were in our secure parking facility which had access to our Minneapolis squad cars and weapons.”

While the chief noted that he respects the First Amendment that allows peaceful assembly, he said these demonstrations cannot continue to evolve into dangerous riots:

“I’m urging all those who participate in these very important gatherings to do so and to be mindful of others’ personal safety, their space, to be respectful.

We cannot have members of our community engaging in destructive or criminal types of behavior.”

Chief Arradondo also commented on the video of Floyd that has been the epicenter of the locals’ outrage. He said that from what he saw on that video doesn’t reflect the department’s “values”:

“What I observed, those actions from those former four officers in no way reflect the values, the vision and the culture that I want to change here with the Minneapolis Police Department.”

The identities of the four officers involved in the video were released by the MPD on May 27th. 

While all four have been fired at this point, there’s been an outcry to levy charges against them.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has been vocal about this as well, asking why at least Chauvin hasn’t been arrested since he’s the one visible on the video with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck:

“I’ve wrestled, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, with one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?

If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. I cannot come up with a good answer to that question.”

The morning of the 28th saw the aftermath of two days’ worth of protests turned into riots. The National Guard was requested to assist the 3rd Precinct police station in order to provide relief to officers, where protesters were said to have begun gathering around said precinct.

The National Guard responded to said request and noted that they were preparing to arrive on site.

Of the five people shot during the riotous nights, one man has been arrested for a fatal shooting that transpired outside of a pawnshop.

Sources say that the 59-year-old male arrested in connection with that alleged shooting was supposedly trying to stop someone from looting the Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry.

The FBI is currently assisting with the investigation into Floyd’s death, and even President Donald Trump has weighed in on the matter as well, posting the following on Twitter:

“At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd.

I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement.

My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”

The ongoing riots have seen the likes of a Target store looted and torn to pieces on the inside. An AutoZone was set on fire, as well as a housing development that was under construction.

Buildings of local businesses and the ilk had windows smashed and covered in graffiti.

 The interior of a Cub Foods that was looted was showcased by a local news anchor who was invited into the establishment after the damage had been done. The scene that was displayed looked as though a tornado had ripped through the interior of the store.

More videos have been surfacing of people looting the already decimated Target store, with many shown pulling shopping carts to load up on items to steal.

What’s confusing in all this, is the level of mental gymnastics going on for people online to justify this behavior. Joshua Collins, who is running for Congress in Washington state, had this to say online about the looting: 

“As long as they continue not to care about cops murdering black people, I’m gonna continue not to care about people looting Targets & AutoZones.”

The only thing that is going to come from these riots going on is further destruction and more violence and possibly more loss of life. By destroying the literal community, therein lies the possibility that investors and businesses will either not return or be scared to ever set up shop in that city.

The quicker that this is addressed, the better for the city. The crowds have been proven to be unmanageable, and thus additional forces are in the works to restore safety and some semblance of civility.

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