Businesses failed by the city of Minneapolis fight back

Back in 2020, my colleague Tom Steward and I described how Minnesotans — and residents of the Twin Cities specifically — were failed so miserably that summer by their state and local governments from Governor Walz on down. While the cities burned for four nights, Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey dithered, anxious not to upset their activist base, pleading pathetically with the rioters to go home. As soon as they belatedly deployed the National Guard, the rioters did that.

In areas like Lake Street especially, many businesses, often owned by immigrants and members of minorities, were sacrificed by state and city leaders.

These businesses paid various taxes and fees to various levels of government and the main thing they expected in return was protection from violence. But, when that violence came in the summer of 2020, that protection was withheld with terrible consequences for these folks. Now, some are looking for compensation.

The Star Tribune reports:

The owners of Cup Foods and several other businesses near George Floyd Square are suing the city of Minneapolis, saying that concrete barricades and the lawlessness that flourished within those barriers cut their income and crushed their property values.

The lawsuit accuses Mayor Jacob Frey and other city officials of essentially abandoning the businesses and offering little more than lip service and weak financial help following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in front of Cup Foods, now known as Unity Foods.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Hennepin County, seeks about $1.5 million in damages from its allegation that the city and Frey were negligent and violated the city’s nuisance ordinance and charter.

Because the city itself erected the barricades, which hampered access to the businesses, and because it knew of rampant crime but failed to police the area accordingly — those losses are on the city, the lawsuit reasons.

All of this is matter of historical record. I do not know if the argument holds water legally, but morally it surely does. I hope they win.

The government does not have “an obligation to bail out any business that falls on hard times.” But, as I wrote last month, in the summer of 2020 the government at state and local level utterly failed in its main obligation to its citizens and those citizens suffered as a direct result of actions taken — or rather, not taken — by their government. Put simply, the city failed to provide services it had contracted to provide and taken payment for. It has a duty, now, to make that right.