Minneapolis burning

Diversity, Decline, and Fall

Nothing spells civic order like a police precinct burning to the ground. The violence in Minneapolis has spread to the suburbs of St. Paul, and it’s almost certainly going to get worse over the next few days because there is very likely something hinky going on behind the scenes. First, George Floyd and Officer Chauvin not only knew each other, they worked together at the same “club” on Lake Street.

“George Floyd and now-former Officer Derek Chauvin both worked security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club on Lake Street, according to Maya Santamaria. ‘Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,’ Santamaria said. ‘They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.’

Second, there is a good chance that neither Chauvin nor the three other officers involved will be charged with any crimes, as the county attorney clearly signaled yesterday.

At a press conference Thursday, Mike Freeman, county attorney for Hennepin County, condemned the actions of white cop Derek Chauvin as ‘horrific and terrible’, but said prosecutors needed to determine if he used ‘excessive’ force when he knelt on the black man’s neck for eight minutes until he passed out and later died.

‘That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that,’ he said. ‘But my job in the end is to prove he violated a criminal statute – but there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.’

And third, the situation now appears to be getting completely out of hand, the full extent of which cannot be properly understood unless you are familiar with the geography of the Twin Cities.

An angry crowd broke into the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters Thursday night and set fire to the building, capping another day of protests, many of them violent, across the Twin Cities.

The police station on E. Lake Street has been the epicenter of protests this week for people demanding justice after the death of George Floyd, who died Monday when a Minneapolis police officer set his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Nearby, Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, the target of looters the night before, also was set ablaze. As flames leapt, sharp explosions sounded as people threw bottles filled with accelerants or fired bullets into the fires….

On St. Paul’s East Side, vandals broke into Cub Foods and its liquor store at the Sun Ray Shopping Center. Police had shut down the mall by about 3:30 p.m., but even as officers filled the parking lot in front, people were driving in the back and grabbing boxes of bottles from the liquor store.

Roseville police Lt. Erika Scheider said they received reports of looting at Rosedale Center, Target, Walmart, Cub Foods, Best Buy, Pawn America and two cell phone stores.

“We responded to a number of looting calls throughout the city. Rosedale had a large group that was able to breach the doors and get inside,” Scheider said.

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to junior high and high school just a few blocks away from the Minnehaha liquor store. But the Rosedale Mall was where my family did most of our Christmas shopping, it’s where my father bought me the Intellivision that got me into video games, it was the home of the B. Dalton’s bookstore where I picked up most of my books before the Barnes & Noble opened in Har Mar, and my first real job was at the Rosedale Dayton’s.

And Rosedale is nowhere near the focus of the unrest at Minnehaha and Lake Street, it’s across the Mississippi River and at least a 15-minute drive up 35W even when there isn’t traffic. Roseville, the city in which Rosedale is situated, is an inner-ring suburb of St. Paul, but it still isn’t particularly vibrant or even very diverse. So, this suggests that the joggers and other violent opportunists are branching out and actively looking for places to loot.

UPDATE: If it’s this bad in St. Paul, how much damage has been done in Minneapolis?

Across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, looting, fire and vandals had damaged about 170 buildings by night’s end, police said.