As the world watches the civil unrest in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd, questions about the nature of protesting abound. Most of us agree that protests must remain peaceful, which begs the question of what to do when law enforcement fires tear gas and uses rubber bullets against unarmed protesters. Most of us don't condone rioting and the destruction of property, which begs the question of why we celebrate events like the Boston Tea Party as justified acts of rebellion against tyranny.
The truth is that these questions aren't simple, and neither are the answers.
We know that people are angry and frustrated over injustice. We know that people complain even when protests are peaceful. And we know that innocent people get caught in the crossfire when unrest flares into destruction.
One Minneapolis restaurant owner who has weighed in on this topic is receiving a wave of support from community members. Ruhel Islam, owner of the Gandhi Mahal Indian restaurant, shared a call for justice in a Facebook post shared by his daughter. The post read:
Thank you to everyone for checking in. Sadly Gandhi Mahal has caught fire and has been damaged. We won't loose hope though, I am so greatful for our ￼neighbors who did their best to stand guard and protect Gandhi Mahal, Youre efforts won't go unrecognized. Don't worry about us, we will rebuild and we will recover. This is Hafsa, Ruhel's daughter writing, as I am sitting next to my dad watching the news, I hear him say on the phone; " let my building burn, Justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail". Gandhi Mahal May have felt the flames last night, but our firey drive to help protect and stand with our community will never die! Peace be with everyone. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd #BLM
The post has received a wave of support from community members as well as people across the nation. Hundreds of commenters have offered to help them rebuild and expressed gratitude for their compassionate response.
"I have been in despair all week and reading this was the first thing that has brought me some sense of joy and hope. I cried happy tears, tears of being seen, tears of solidarity reading this. This is what people over property looks like in action. This is what solidarity looks like. When you reopen, I promise I will be there to support."
"This is absolutely the best response. Buildings can be rebuilt. Businesses are insured. George Floyd can't be brought back to life. Thank you for this."
"I love you even more. I was just crying about the loss of this beautiful space. And you helped me feel better. We will be there with you as you rebuild."
"The amazing food at your restaurant is only rivaled by the amazing hearts you possess. Thank you for being leaders, for being strong humans, and for being a vital part of the fabric of our city!"
"Hafsa, thank you for sharing this and for the sacrifice your family has made in pursuit of justice. I am am an attorney at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis and I focus on construction and real estate matters. Please let me know if there is something I can do to help you and your family's business on a pro bono basis. Seriously, I'm here for you!!"
No one wants to see their business and livelihood destroyed, and it's heartening to see that neighbors did try to help protect the restaurant. At the same time, so many are expressing appreciation for how this family is keeping the bigger picture in mind as they share their thoughts on what they've experienced—being real about the damage done, but focusing their energies on the calls for justice that lie at the heart of the chaos.
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