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"You need our votes, we need you." Business owner calls on city leaders to help rebuild after riots

Since 1986, Flora’s Hair Designs, along side her son’s cell phone shop have served as a staple on West Broadway street on the city's north side.

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s somewhat of a final plea for North Minneapolis business owners like Flora Westbrooks, one of several business owners who lost it all during the Minneapolis riots in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"I'm just here just wondering where do we go from here? Because we lost everything, so where do we go," asked Westbrooks in a private meeting with other business owners Wednesday evening. 

Since 1986, Flora’s Hair Designs, along side her son’s cell phone shop have served as a staple on West Broadway street on the city's north side. 

"I did grandma’s hair, I did their daughters, their husbands, sons," said Westbrooks. 

Now, with nothing left to show for any of it, Westbrooks is taking things a step further calling on our elected officials to step in and help rebuild. 

"We need you. We need you just like you need our votes... I'm all alone," said Westbrooks. 

Representative Ilhan Omar says she knows very well the place these business owners find themselves in, as many mom and pop business owners in the area don’t have insurance or access to resources to cover such loss, which is why she says she’s pushing for legislation in hopes of getting the north side of town back up and running. 

"We’re working on getting emergency relief funds to help rebuild for people like her and her son," said Rep. Omar. She went on to say, "we’re also working on anti-gentrification and displacement funds to help make sure the community businesses are protected.”

A business, built from the ground up, once standing on it’s own. 

"I built this thing from scratch. I never got any loans. I never got any grants. I never got anything," said Westbrooks. 

The goal now is not just to rebuild, but to revitalize. 

"We need something better than what we have right now and this moment is going to make it possible," said Rep. Omar. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement: “I completely understand the frustration that Flora and so many businesses owners throughout our city are feeling. The financial impacts of the unrest on top of COVID-19 are immense, and we must do everything possible to help. That’s why we have launched the Community Now Coalition to identify strategies and resources for helping impacted business and communities get back on their feet. We are also asking for state and federal help for those who have been impacted, as the City’s financial resources cannot stretch far enough to help everyone. To Flora and businesses like hers, we hear you loud and clear and we will fight for you.”

A GoFundMe page has been setup to help Westbrooks rebuild. 

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