We've just come back from surveying the wreckage of south Minneapolis and we're angry.
Angry that our city is being burned and looted. Angry that residents are having to become firefighters, security staff, and janitors of their own streets. Angry that communities in need are losing vital stores and pharmacies. Angry that hard-working business owners are seeing their endeavors go up in smoke. And above all else angry that the killing of another black man by police is being perverted for selfish or nefarious ends.
It's become patently clear over the past few days that Minneapolis is currently the scene of two distinct groups: protesters and rioters.
Watching live streams of last night's protests for George Floyd at the 3rd and 5th Precinct and the march through Minneapolis, and there was little of the clashes with police seen on previous nights. These were mostly peaceful protests. The 5th Precinct is still there this morning, and there was video showing protesters extinguishing fires and admonishing those throwing projectiles at the station.
Is there some property damage and graffiti associated with the protests? Undoubtedly. People are angry – justifiably so.
But why would Minneapolis and St. Paul protesters set fire to our neighborhoods? Our grocery stores? Our gas stations? Our pharmacies and vital clinics? They wouldn't. They want change, not destruction.
Why would the black community set fire to Arnelia's in St. Paul? Or the Gordon Parks Alternative School? Or the multiple POCI-owned businesses on Lake Street and West Broadway.
The damage on West Broadway alone should be a clue, given that there were countless fires, yet not protests. The video too of the "umbrella man" at AutoZone on Wednesday shows that Minneapolis is now in the grip of something altogether more sinister.
Video and witness accounts from south Minneapolis on Friday night show a fair number of those setting the fires are white, with the likes of Vox reporting that "white supremacists" are mobilizing in response to the unrest, while at the same time it's raising the specter of "Antifa" from the other end of the political spectrum, including President Trump.
Thing is, until authorities start finding and arresting the culprits, we're not going to know their political persuasion. We're not going to know their motivations. We're not going to know where they live – though it's becoming increasingly apparent that the vast majority are not from Minneapolis, or even Minnesota.
But what we do know is this: They're assholes.