As the fires smoldered, the helpers came.
Since Friday morning, thousands of volunteers have arrived with brooms, shovels and garbage bags — especially along a 5-mile stretch of Lake Street in Minneapolis and a 1-mile stretch of University Avenue in St. Paul — to clean up the damage done by several nights of rioting in the Twin Cities.
During the same period, 27,000 people have contributed more than $2 million to a fund coordinated by the Lake Street Council, a nonprofit that advocates for small businesses and organizations.
And understanding that the extensive damage has left some neighborhoods without grocery stores and other needed services, many have opened pop-up food shelves, while in smaller-scale efforts to feed the hungry some simply fired up grills and handed out free food to their grieving neighbors.
Showing strong support for justice and community building, those were some of the inspiring ways Minnesotans and others have responded to the looting and property damage sparked by the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old African-American man who died on Memorial Day while in police custody.
While condemning violence and property damage, many who are helping with the cleanup say they understand the anger caused by Floyd's death. Rushing in to help clean up and rebuild, and provide for those harmed by the violence, are positive ways to honor Floyd's memory and live up his family's plea for peace.
As of Sunday, an estimated 270 businesses across the Twin Cities had been burned out, vandalized, looted or had doors and windows smashed. Some have been destroyed by fire, while others suffered water and fire damage.
The response from peace-loving citizens brings a bright light of comfort and hope for the future.
For those who still want to help, opportunities abound. You can still donate money and food to organized efforts in the affected communities. Contributions of brooms and other cleaning supplies are welcome. With public transportation suspended, giving rides to those who need them can help.
"Many of our local small businesses are being adversely impacted by the protests related to the murder of George Floyd," the Minnesota Rapid Response Coalition said in a statement. "This coalition has joined together to help with the cleanup, in efforts to lower their unforeseen expenses so that they can get back to work and thrive. We will start with businesses along the Lake Street, Midway and East St. Paul business corridors, then allocate resources throughout the Twin Cities."
All Minnesotans should be proud and grateful for the positive response from so many parts of the community, including nonprofits, businesses, faith communities, neighborhood groups and colleges. The generous outpouring of help and support will go a long way toward repairing not only the damaged property, but wounded hearts and spirits as well.