Owners of a Lake Street restaurant destroyed in the rioting that followed George Floyd's death have filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and Mayor Jacob Frey, arguing they should have done more to prevent the devastation.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Kacey White and Charles Stotts, who owned the Town Talk Diner & Gastropub, which was a block from the city's Third Precinct police station.
The complaint focuses on the decision to abandon the Third Precinct and the timing for deploying the National Guard. The diner owners accuse Frey of ignoring tactical advice from law enforcement and deviating from a policy for responding to unrest. They also accuse Frey of allowing destruction to escalate as he "indecisively balanced politics with tactics."
"Executive leadership at the local level failed to distinguish between demonstrators and rioters," attorney Michael B. Healey wrote in the lawsuit. "Mayor Frey ultimately failed to provide the guidance Minnesotans expect from their offices."
Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader pushed back hard Tuesday, saying he felt the suit ignored key facts and the city "stands ready to vigorously defend this lawsuit."
After the precinct fell, Frey and Gov. Tim Walz traded criticisms over the riot response. Walz called the city's response to the rioting an "abject failure" and Frey said Walz hesitated to fulfill his request to send in the National Guard.
On Tuesday, Rowader repeated the city's previous statements that Frey "took quick and decisive action … as soon as there was any discernible risk of civil unrest and damage to neighborhoods and businesses."
Healey could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Town Talk Diner & Gastropub was hit by rioters multiple times. On the morning of May 28, about 2½ days after Floyd's death and after a night of violence, the owners went to their restaurant and found destruction "far worse than they could have imagined," according to the lawsuit, which included photos that showed broken windows, damaged furniture and graffiti.
That night, police abandoned the precinct and rioters burned it.
According to the lawsuit, the diner was set on fire about 3:30 a.m., and "not a single public official, police officer, firefighter or member of the Minnesota National Guard was around."
When the owners returned at 8:19 a.m., "all that remained of Town Talk was its iconic sign demolished under a pile of rubble," according to the lawsuit.
The diner owners are seeking at least $4.5 million in damages, plus interest and attorneys' fees.
Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994