My heart broke reading about the small-business owners of Lake Street and the surrounding area who lost their businesses during the George Floyd protests and riots ("Big bids stun property owners," front page, Aug. 31). Most of these businesses were family-run, owned by hardworking immigrants and people of color who helped make our city the vibrant place it is. If you drive down there now, you will find it looks like a war zone, and you too will be horrified by the sheer destruction and desolation of this once busy, bustling part of the city. Now these small-business owners face catastrophe as the cost of demolishing the sites is far higher than anyone anticipated due to hazardous waste laws, underinsurance and other complications too myriad to mention.
I have contributed to the Lake Street Council website for the rebuilding, as have many others. Millions have been raised through small contributions, but sadly that number is dwarfed by the costs of both demolition and rebuilding. Instead of playing a blame game as to why all this happened, which we could debate for years, let's instead look for solutions, for none of these businesses now lying in rubble nor their owners and employees caused this.
Instead, what about a faster solution? What if our vast and successful larger business community sees this as a problem it could help solve? Imagine if each of these companies donated several million to the rebuilding. Lake Street could be back open for business within a year! Construction jobs would be created. The community would thrive once again. I implore you, billion-dollar companies of Minnesota — with all your wealth and success — can you spare a bit for these businesses and help rebuild a wonderful, diverse part of the city of Minneapolis? Show us that corporations do care about more than profits; show us that you believe in the American immigrant and the hardworking small-business owner as much as you believe in capitalism. I am sending out a plea. Who will answer?
Eva Lockhart, Edina
• • •
Regarding the horrendous cost of cleanup incurred by the businesses during the protests and riots after the death of George Floyd, I think that both the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in conjunction with the state of Minnesota should absorb all the costs. It was these three entities that essentially were at fault in that they were not able to control those who actually did damage to the buildings. If I owned a business that was struck by lightning and a fire began, and then I called the fire department and it stopped one block away to watch it burn to the ground, what would the consequences be for the city after that act? Who would be responsible for the taxpayer-supported fire department that did not do the job for which it was obligated by payment to do? This should not be complicated. Both cities and the state of Minnesota have funds to cover extremes such as this and none of the deliberations about whether costs should be covered or not should be political.
Tina Landeen, Edina
You don't get it. The city could die.
If not protected, downtown Minneapolis and Minneapolis' other business districts will die from the effects of the repeated, and largely unchallenged, destruction of property and looting, coupled with the fact Mayor Jacob Frey and Gov. Tim Walz have failed in their duty to fight the evil that is consuming downtown and other Minneapolis business districts.
This lack of commitment to the protection of businesses located in the city will likely cause business owners to question whether they can survive more destruction and mayhem and some, or many, will close their businesses or offices and depart for a less threatening environment, taking jobs and needed economic vitality with them.
Once downtown and other business districts die, the city as we know it will be lost.
We can fight racism, as we must, and yet not cave in to those who would destroy the city. These two things are simply not mutually exclusive.
We need to acknowledge that we are in a war to save downtown and our other business districts and thus the city, and that it is a war that is currently being lost, in part, by reason of the failed leadership of Walz and Frey.
Walz and Frey must find the political courage necessary to unequivocally declare that this destruction of property, jobs and people's financial lives by criminals will not be tolerated another day.
Furthermore, in addition to drawing this line in the sand, Walz and Frey must firmly take the actions, when required, that establish that they will do whatever is lawfully needed to defend the city, its businesses and its people from the ravages of unchecked lawlessness.
Without this commitment to law and order, businesses and people will decide to leave Minneapolis, and if they leave, they won't come back.
John Crouch, Edina
• • •
As a former member of a white national socialist organization and now openly gay man, I can say the following: Violence and criminal acts should never be used nor encouraged to further a cause or agenda. I am in prison and there are a great many others who are in here as well for doing just that: using acts of violence to further our cause or purpose or whatever you may wish to call it. And we are paying for it.
If both parties have their fists up, how do we expect the fight to stop? If we really want to effect change, our actions should be the embodiment of the results we wish to attain.
Jordan Blevins, Moose Lake, Minn.
Take note of MLB's failures
For years I've been a loyal viewer, supporter and mourner of Minnesota sports teams. Like many, I missed watching baseball when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I was eager to watch when it resumed. However, I think we have more than enough evidence that the Major League Baseball experiment has failed: I am constantly getting headlines about more games being delayed because more teams have more positive cases of the coronavirus. It's clear that if you aren't willing to set up a complete bubble like the NHL or NBA, you are setting yourself up for furthering the spread of a deadly virus.
My entire adult life I have watched the Vikings each Sunday and I've gone to U.S. Bank Stadium each year since its opening. I just cannot see any coherent strategy from the NFL to keep people safe — no central planning or understanding of the risks involved. Baseball should be a warning, and the team owners would be foolish to open up their stadium and allow crowds from around the state to swarm into Minneapolis and put immunocompromised fans like me at risk ("Vikings' first two home games, at minimum, will be fan-free," Aug. 26).
I miss the Vikings and have gone into my football-starved frenzy that I reach every August. But if pro football cannot be feasibly played in a pandemic, and I have many reasons to believe that to be true, I'll pull up reruns of the '98 season and play more Madden.
Max Ritter, Minneapolis
We can claim a little credit
A reader expressed his joy that the monarch butterfly is on its way back ("An orange-winged bright spot," Readers Write, Aug. 29). The growth is partially due to SaveOurMonarchs Foundation in Minneapolis, which has provided 5 million milkweed seed packets free to anyone sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to us. And we have created over 11,000 monarch wildflower school gardens across the U.S. — without any government or corporate subsidies but totally with individual donations. It is just individuals working hard and doing good that makes America such a wonderful place to live.
Ward Johnson, Minneapolis
The writer is director of the SaveOurMonarchs Foundation. Seed requests can be sent to PO Box 390135, Minneapolis MN 55439.
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.