Pandemic and riots knock out traders in Minneapolis

The Fehrenkamp brothers were delighted to reopen the terrace of their pub on Monday, thanks to the easing of containment measures in force in Minneapolis, when rioters set fire to their establishment.

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Like them, dozens of merchants in this large city in the northern United States find themselves in a very delicate financial situation under the combined effect of the new coronavirus and violence linked to the death of George Floyd.

The 46-year-old African American died during his arrest on May 27, suffocated by a policeman kneeling on his neck. Since then, every evening, the demonstrations organized to demand justice, degenerate into looting and degradations.

The Iron Door pub, located one kilometer from a police station, paid the price for this anger on the night of Friday to Saturday. Daniel Fehrenkamp, ​​who was monitoring his home with a camera, saw people breaking the front door, having beers and setting fire to the back of the bar.

Firefighting systems started and the water ran for six hours, causing more damage than the flames.

On Monday, the two brothers welcomed an insurance agent to assess the damage.

“This is my fifth expertise” linked to the demonstrations “and I still have some left,” explains Trevor Winter, visibly disturbed, noting the broken windows, the parquet swollen with water, the drowned TVs, the blackened walls. ..

“Very fine ice”

“We will need at least three months to restore everything,” says Daniel Fehrenkamp, ​​noting that the artisans are all overwhelmed in Minneapolis. “It already takes 9 to 10 weeks to get new windows and I’m sure it will get worse …”

“We were already on very thin ice because of the pandemic, I hope we will manage to bounce back,” added his brother Jack.

Their pub had indeed been closed for two months and had only resumed takeaway for three weeks, thanks to public aid.

The brothers had already tried to use their insurance to compensate for the loss of income, but had been dismissed. “It was heartbreaking,” says Daniel, hoping for a better outcome this time.

While waiting for the verdict, he is betting on his wife’s income to keep up with the shock and plans to take a part-time job to make ends meet.

To avoid this scenario, Jack McCrery, owner of the Zoe Bakery Cafe 100 yards away, spends each night on site. “We are staying outside, it may have helped,” he said, while a gas station supermarket adjacent to his cafe was reduced to ashes.

Others have affixed “justice for George”, “children live here” or “belongs to a minority” signs on the panels covering the windows, hoping to soften the thugs.

“It will make my wife crazy”

At the other end of the city, in the northern districts, Tom Bernard was also preparing to pick up his barber scissors after two months of inactivity, when a Molotov cocktail set fire to the shop of a neighbor, in the night of Sunday to Monday, causing damage in his living room.

“The grand reopening will have to wait,” he notes with irony. “I’m going to stay at home for another month or two, it’s going to drive my wife crazy, but what can I do about it?”

Like the Fehrenkamp brothers, he salutes the support of the residents of Minneapolis who, armed with shovels and brooms, rushed in the early hours to clean up the debris.

They also generously participated in fundraisers, organized on the internet or by district councils, to support the city’s merchants.

“We are strong in Minnesota, we will swallow the pill and it will pass,” says Tom Bernard. “Finally, cross our fingers so that it does not happen again.”

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