A St. Paul firefighter trains a hose on University Avenue businesses just east of Snelling Avenue on May 29 in the aftermath of riots across the Twin Cities in response to the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. Photos by Brad Stauffer

Rioting spreads to St. Paul after officer-involved murder in Minneapolis

By Jane McClure

Scores of businesses across the Villager area were cleaning up on Friday, May 29, following a second day of vandalism, arson and looting in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The police brutality, recorded by bystanders and posted on social media, sparked a protest on Wednesday at the site of Floyd’s arrest at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis and outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct Station at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue South. The protest devolved into a riot that spread throughout Minneapolis on Wednesday evening and into St. Paul and some suburbs on Thursday.

The four police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired by the Minneapolis department prior to the protests. Manslaughter and third-degree murder charges were filed on Friday against one of the four officers, Derek Chauvin, who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while the African-American man pleaded that he could not breathe. The National Guard arrived in the Twin Cities late Thursday. St. Paul and Minneapolis imposed curfews from 8 p.m.-6 a.m. Friday and Saturday to prevent more violence.

   

While many area businesses cleaned up on Friday with the help of local volunteers, dozens of others were boarding up their windows and doors to ward off any additional violence. Several local district councils, business associations and other civic groups organized crews of volunteers who were out sweeping up glass and picking up debris in the Midway area, Highland Village, along Grand Avenue and on the West End.

A quick tour on Friday morning in St. Paul indicated that University Avenue businesses sustained the heaviest damage. Midway Shopping Center was hit very hard. The Foot Locker was looted and set ablaze. The neighboring Great Clips, Rainbow clothing shop, GameStop Midway and Peking Garden restaurant were heavily damaged. Big Top Liquor was looted and set ablaze.

On the other side of University, Midway Tobacco, the Sports Dome, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s restaurant and other businesses were in ruins. CVS Pharmacy at University and Snelling Avenue was vandalized and looted, as was Ax-Man Surplus to the west. Lloyd’s Pharmacy, which stood for 120 years at Snelling and Minnehaha Avenue, was set on fire and is a total loss.

 

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Building owner Lucas Goring carries a ladder past Ken Berglund as the two boarded up Toppers Pizza on Grand Avenue on May 29 fearing further rioting.

Businesses were looted and fires set at Midway Marketplace. Cub Foods, Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx and the HealthEast Clinic were hit hard. At University and Hamline Avenue, a fire was set at the UPS store, Discount Tire was vandalized and looted, and America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses and LeeAnn Chin restaurant sustained heavy damage. Furniture Barn was set on fire and looted. The Midway SuperTarget was looted and vandalized, as were the nearby Verizon store, Noodles and Company restaurant and the Vitamin Shop.

Stores and restaurants on the first floor of an apartment building at University and Hamline sustained damage. The building at University and Syndicate Street that housed Bole restaurant, NAPA Auto Parts and Jackson Hewitt was destroyed by fire. Windows were smashed at the Goodwill Store, and its dumpster was set on fire. Enterprise Rent-A-Car was damaged by fire. Ananya Dance Theater was vandalized. A wig shop in the former Arnellia’s nightclub was looted and set on fire.

St. Paul and Minneapolis imposed curfews from 8 p.m.-6 a.m. Friday and Saturday to prevent more violence.

Gordon Parks School was damaged by vandalism and fire. Aldi grocery store was vandalized. The UnBank, White Castle restaurant and TCF Bank at University and Lexington Parkway were damaged. O’Reilly Auto Parts was vandalized and set on fire.

Speedway gas stations and convenience stores were damaged at Snelling and Portland avenues, Snelling and Ford Parkway, and Lexington Parkway and Central Avenue. The Speedway at Grand and Cleveland avenues was set on fire, as was the Speedway at University and Chatsworth Street. The Grand-Cleveland store is believed to be a total loss. Holiday Stationstores throughout the area were also vandalized and looted, with some of the worst damage to the store at Snelling and Iglehart avenues.

Small businesses along University all the way to the state Capitol sustained damage, as did the Uni-Dale Mall. The 7-Mile Sportswear store at Uni-Dale was looted and vandalized.

Walgreens pharmacies at Randolph and Snelling avenues, Grand Avenue and Grotto Street, and Ford Parkway and Cleveland Avenue were vandalized and looted, as was the CVS Pharmacy on Grand Avenue. West Seventh Pharmacy was looted and vandalized.

On Grand Avenue, many businesses sustained property damage and looting, including Lululemon at Victoria Street, Gold’n Treasures at Avon Street, and First Grand Avenue Liquor Store at Milton Street.

Trader Joe’s at Randolph and Lexington was vandalized and looted. Liquor Barrel at West Seventh Street and St. Clair Avenue had a door and window broken and was looted.

In Highland Village, citizen patrols that formed late Thursday afternoon likely kept damage from being worse. Still, several businesses reported looting and property damage. A vehicle was set ablaze in the TruStone parking lot. R.F. Moeller’s, the Fixery and Verizon had rocks thrown through windows and were looted. The Fixery was extensively damaged. International Wine and Spirits was vandalized and looted.

Businesses in the Selby-Snelling area reported window damage. Further east on Selby, the Mississippi Market and Claddagh Coffee shop near Dale Street also sustained damage.

The Fixery in Highland Park had to be boarded up following looting on May 28.

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