The charges filed Thursday against Derek Chauvin come late for so many neighborhoods now dealing with the aftermath of violence, fires and destruction.
For many small businesses -- already at a breaking point because of COVID-19 -- it's almost unbearable. The hum of electric drills was the constant soundtrack Friday on University Avenue in the Midway neighborhood.
Friday, a cluster of those black owned businesses boarded property in an attempt to preserve history and prevent destruction. Tetra Constantino owns Elsa’s House of Sleep.
His late mother, Elsa, started the business in 1997. It is a family-owned discount furniture, mattress, dining room, living room, and bedroom store based in St. Paul. When Elsa passed, Tetra, took over.
Thursday night, Tetra and the small business owners surrounding him didn’t sleep.
“No, we haven’t been getting any sleep in these past few nights,” he said. “This is all we have this is our livelihood. This is what we live for. This is what we do.”
Tim Wilson owns Urban Lights Music. He said they called for help but nobody came as people attempted to kick in their locked doors.
He and other business owners told KARE 11 police we’re guarding nearby Allianz field while the city was under attack.
“We made a pact to protect our businesses because no one else would help us so we were here holding down the block,” he said, adding members of the community stepped in to help.
“On the charges, it’s a start. If it happened a few days ago maybe we could’ve avoided all the madness that is happening.”
Wilson, who has owned his music shop 20 years, doesn’t condone the violence. He said he does understand the pain.
“It is hard to juggle both worlds. I understand the outrage and people’s confliction, but I am on other side of it as well. This is my livelihood. I don’t want this disrupted or destroyed,” he said.
Alana Carrington, who owns Carrington Cares, was moved to tears as she watched the city she loves burn. Her nonprofit provides gas cards for cancer patients once a month to help them get to and from chemo or radiation treatments.
"I can't even get in the store to get the cards to send because we are boarded all up," she said."People are tearing up stuff and they don't even know what it is. Some are taking advantage of the situation."
Carrington also said COVID-19 strained their work. They lost funding and were forced to close their doors during the stay at home order.
Carrington, a 12-year cancer survivor, said it is a miracle their businesses were untouched.
“Everything around us burned,” she said pointing to businesses across the street. “I believe we didn’t burn down because about 30 days ago, when we thought we were going to do a soft open due to the COVID … I went from that corner to Elsa’s House of Sleep with my blessed oil and put the cross over every business asking God to do a bunch of things before we opened back up. I believe that prayers, the prayers of the community and people we have no idea are praying kept us afloat.”
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