Restaurant owner whose building burned says justice for George Floyd must come first

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:


Hello everyone!
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.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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