Archive | Through Their Eyes

‘Immigration lawyers, do not burn’

Posted on 05 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Local attorney Eva Wailes has been talking with her 11- and 14-year-old sons about his death, and how to push back against racism, bullying, injustice, and unfairness when they see it. She said, “We have to keep the focus on why this happened.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

by Margie O’Loughlin

Attorney Eva Wailes got a message from her boss last Friday, May 29, 2020 that their building had been damaged by protest fires. The windows of the Wilson Law Group (3019 Minnehaha Ave.) were boarded up. Someone had spray painted, “Immigration lawyers, do not burn!” across the plywood window coverings – and the building was still standing. The Third Precinct Police Station across the street was gone, as were the post office and most of the surrounding businesses.
She said, “Several of us came over on Saturday morning to save what we could, and to move some things out of offices. We thought the building might not survive the next night. There are 60-65 people who work here. Everybody had masks on and we were trying to social distance, but I hugged two of my co-workers because it seemed the right thing to do. We hadn’t seen each other since the pandemic started. Some people were sweeping up broken glass. I started gathering everybody’s framed documents and other official things. I brought them home for safe keeping.”
To look at the major intersection of the Longfellow commercial district right now is to see burned out shells of buildings and towering piles of rubble. Eva is eager for the businesses and organizations to thrive again but, she said, “We have to re-build the human community as well as the buildings that will house them. When we feel the same outrage against systemic racism and police brutality – and we take action like we do when there’s property damage and clean-up – then we’ll be getting somewhere.”
On Thursday, June 4, George Floyd’s memorial service was held. Eva has been talking with her 11- and 14-year-old sons about his death, and how to push back against racism, bullying, injustice, and unfairness when they see it. She said, “We have to keep the focus on why this happened.”

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Living on Lake Street during the riots

Posted on 03 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

by Margie O’Loughlin

“I’m grateful that the church next door is helping people get back on their feet,” said John Riggins, who lives at Trinity on Lake Apartments.

John Riggins grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., a place considered by many to be the most dangerous city in America. He moved to Minneapolis in 1992, and has been a resident of Trinity on Lake Apartments since last year. Until the riots started, he called living there “a slice of heaven.”
But last week for three nights, everything changed. John and the other residents were effectively trapped in their apartments while fires raged around them. He said, “The nights were the worst. Every time I tried to go to sleep, there was another BOOM on the street. A lot of the residents here are older, have respiratory issues, or are living with disabilities. There was nothing any of us could do.”
Fast forward to a steamy Tuesday afternoon, on the ninth day since George Floyd was killed. John is sitting on the veranda of the Trinity Lake Apartments in his wheel chair, watching a different kind of commotion.
Hundreds of black, white, Latinx, Asian, and East African people file past tables piled high with food staples and hygiene supplies. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is hosting a second day of free distribution of items to meet basic needs – all donated by community members who pull up to the church in an unending stream.
John said, “I guess we have to look at what’s ahead. This is the time to come together. I’m grateful that the church next door is helping people get back on their feet. We don’t have any other place to get groceries right now in the neighborhood. I feel okay today. I’m going to be better tomorrow.”

Hundreds of black, white, Latinx, Asian, and East African people file past tables piled high with food staples and hygiene supplies. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church is hosting a second day of free distribution of items to meet basic needs – all donated by community members who pull up to the church in an unending stream.

Signs at Trinity on Lake Apartments, 2805 E. Lake St. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“The nights were the worst. Every time I tried to go to sleep, there was another BOOM on the street. A lot of the residents here are older, have respiratory issues, or are living with disabilities. There was nothing any of us could do,” said John Riggins, who lives at Trinity on Lake Apartments.

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