Minneapolis is burning, but the kindling has been there for so long

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 will be remembered as the night Minneapolis burned.

It's when simmering tensions and seething resentments boiled over.

What began 48-hours earlier, with the death of an unarmed handcuffed man, George Floyd, and demonstrations that were for the most part peaceful, metastasized into rioting and looting.

The Target store and Cub Foods, the only grocery stores in this neighborhood, were destroyed.

An affordable housing complex for low-income residents burned to the ground.

The violence spread from the 3rd precinct, down Lake Street, and to wealthier zip codes, to Uptown, where a jewelry store was destroyed and cleaned out.

Same thing happened at a pharmacy and there were broken windows everywhere, as if the rioters were saying: this is no longer our problem, we are making it yours too.

When an emotional Mayor Jacob Frey spoke Thursday, he tried to put the night in a historical context.

"So much anger and sadness engrained in black community not just because of five minutes of horror, but 500 years," he said.

It’s not the first time the city’s burned, Back in July of 1967, it was Plymouth Avenue that went up.

The National Guard was called in, this too, a response to Minneapolis police.

More than 50 years later, history was simply repeating itself Wednesday night.

The kindling has been there for so long.

In a progressive, liberal city that is also one of the most segregated in the nation, where African Americans are disproportionately the victims of crime and disproportionately incarcerated.

As more than 30 fires burned in the city, as anarchy seemed to reign, it seemed as though police were nowhere to be found.

They were busy defending the 3rd Precinct with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Given the history, how could city leaders not anticipate something like this?

"I know there’s a deficit of hope and we’ve contributed but we will not allow that by re-traumatizing our community,” said Medaria Arradondo, the Chief of Minneapolis Police.

He believes there are outside agitators who may be responsible for some of the violence.  Those who don’t care about George Floyd or the cause, but simply see an opportunity for mayhem.

This week, it’s getting hard to know the good guys from the bad.

Just as the coronavirus appears to be peaking in Minnesota, there is another virus. This one has been with us a long time. Its symptoms on full display last night.

We are still looking for a vaccine, or a cure, and it still seems so far out of reach.