As Minnesota lawmakers debate how to cover law enforcement costs ahead of possible riots during Derek Chauvin's trial, Minneapolis and St. Paul business owners are pleading for help over last summer's bout of civil unrest.
"We are still suffering," Peking Garden owner Louis Lau told the House bonding committee last week. "We still need the support of the state to ensure our business can survive."
His was one of roughly 1,500 businesses that were burned, damaged or looted during the riots that broke out after Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, put his knee on George Floyd's neck last May. He faces murder charges in Floyd's death.
During seven special sessions last year, lawmakers couldn't agree on an aid package. Now, a House bill is proposing to borrow $300 million to help them rebuild, including many businesses owned by immigrants along Minneapolis' Lake Street.
The bill cleared the committee but faces a challenge in a divided Legislature, where any aid for Minneapolis has become a political volleyball.
Without help soon, those businesses might never return, said Chris Montana, owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits.
"The slow process that rebuilt Lake Street over 30 years from when I was introduced to it in the '90s, we can't wait" that long, he said. "It will be scooped up. Big business … will come in."