In Minneapolis, An Immigrant Street Struggles To Recover

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nearly all the wreckage along Lake Street has been hauled away. The fire-swept buildings have been torn down or repaired. The police station is empty, its entryway sealed with stacked concrete blocks like a street corner pharaoh’s tomb.

The street, the focus of so much violence when protests raged through Minneapolis after George Floyd died in police custody, looks almost normal in places.

Supermercado Morelia is again selling pickled cactus slices and two dozen varieties of Mexican cookies. At the Dur Dur grocery store, they’re back to offering goat meat, rice in 20-pound bags, and cheap money transfers to East Africa. Hufan Restaurant Cafe is trumpeting “the best Somali and American cuisine.” The drive-thru at Popeyes is open every night until 11.

But look again, because plenty has also changed along Lake Street, a beacon for immigrants for more than a century.

The heart of the miles-long commercial and cultural corridor is struggling to recover. Politicians are bickering about rebuilding funds, crime is up across the city and the corridor is bracing for more protests as a former police officer goes on trial Monday in Floyd’s death. And even when Minnesota’s notorious winter surrendered recently to sunny, spring-like weather, the sidewalks in the hardest-hit neighborhoods remained quiet.

“There’s a void,” said Chris Montana, founder of one of America’s few Black-owned micro-distilleries, Du Nord Craft Spirits, whose nearby warehouse was ransacked and set on fire during the protests. “You walk up and down Lake Street right now, the only signs of progress are that the piles of rubble have been replaced by empty fields.”

At LV’s Barber Shop, the door is locked, and the black barber chairs are layered in dust. At what was once Minnehaha Liquors, there’s nothing but an old metal sign pointing to an empty lot. There’s the dentist who hasn’t returned to work, the bulldozed post office, and the Mexican party supply store that keeps its door locked in the middle of the day because the staff is worried about crime.

By Tim Sullivan for ASSOCIATED PRESS
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