Cities across the nation have been rocked by both peaceful protests and violent, fiery riots. Buildings across the country have burned. And it all leads back to George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in our hometown.
The officer who drove his knee into Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes – even as he pleaded “I can't breathe” – has been arrested and charged for killing Floyd. Three fellow officers who stood by have not.
And so from Minneapolis to Chicago to Fargo, North Dakota, to Washington, D.C. and over to London and Berlin, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets, fists in the air in solidarity for Floyd.
In Minneapolis and elsewhere, destruction followed: burning buildings, reports of violence, clashes with police, and more – some wrought by protesters supporting Floyd, and some from others and outsiders just trying to capitalize on chaos.
This is a breaking point in a country that has spent the last decade swinging from grief to anger to calls for action to quickly moving on. We spent the weekend helping clean our city and trying to help organize resources to rebuild while searching for the right words to capture the gravity of this moment that gripped our city before it spread to the country.
We settled on three words.
Black Lives Matter.
For some reason, these three words are controversial. They shouldn't be.
Those three words don't mean only Black Lives Matter. They don't condone violence towards police, business owners, anyone, or anything. They certainly don't condone riots or destruction.
And, of course, all lives matter. But until you recognize the value of marginalized and oppressed communities, “All Lives Matter” is a hollow statement. It's a cop-out.
Maybe you won't like reading this. Maybe you think, as a travel company, we should stay in our lane. That's OK. But some things are more important than travel and cheap flights. No matter what we say (or don't say), someone will be unhappy. So we figured we'd say what we feel.
So that's where we'll leave it: with three simple yet critical words that can help our city, state, and nation heal.
From here, we will listen to the voices of black men and women who feel this deeper than we possibly could. We'll do our best to help our community rebuild and try to help the world heal by bringing people closer together through travel.
We'll look for the beauty in the pain of this moment. And there is plenty of beauty.
Thousands of people brought brooms and bags to clean the streets of Minneapolis over the weekend. Members of our community have banded together to keep each other safe. People worldwide have donated $2.2 million and counting to help rebuild burnt-down and damaged buildings on Lake Street. And donations of food and supplies have overwhelmed community food shelves in neighborhoods that no longer have functioning grocery stores.
If you'd like to help our community, Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine has compiled a list of community organizations, food drives, cleanup efforts, and organizations.
We cannot let this moment pass us. The late Martin Luther King Jr. said: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
That doesn't mean you have to condone or accept rioting. But it does mean we all have to start listening.
Rest in peace, George Floyd.