And then, for no reason, people began to hate…
Cup Foods owners sue Minneapolis over lost business at George Floyd Square: Concrete barriers and lawlessness cut their income and crushed their property values, lawsuit alleges., Star Tribune, November 29, 2023
The owners of Cup Foods and several other businesses near George Floyd Square are suing the city of Minneapolis, saying that concrete barricades and the lawlessness that flourished within those barriers cut their income and crushed their property values.
The lawsuit accuses Mayor Jacob Frey and other city officials of essentially abandoning the businesses and offering little more than lip service and weak financial help following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in front of Cup Foods, now known as Unity Foods.
The lawsuit underscores lingering acrimony over the city’s response to the unrest that followed Floyd’s murder; more than three years later, proposed changes to the area around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, from infrastructure to some form of permanent memorial, are still years off.
The plaintiffs in the suit are Cup Foods Inc.; Menthol Tobacco LLC, which operates inside the corner store; Southside Electronics Inc., which also operates in the store; NMA Investments Inc., which operates out of the same address; and 3759 Chicago Ave. LLC, which owns businesses near the intersection.
The plaintiffs are the longtime owners of the building and the Cup Foods business; more recently they have been leasing the store to the operators of Unity Foods, their attorney said.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Hennepin County, seeks about $1.5 million in damages from its allegation that the city and Frey were negligent and violated the city’s nuisance ordinance and charter.
Because the city itself erected the barricades, which hampered access to the businesses, and because it knew of rampant crime but failed to police the area accordingly—those losses are on the city, the lawsuit reasons.
Casper Hill, a city spokesman, said Tuesday that the city was aware of the suit “but has no comment at this time.”
Ally Peters, a spokeswoman for Frey, gave the following statement: “We did everything possible to open the street safely amid very tenuous circumstances. When we finally did open the street, the City did so in a planned way where no one was hurt and the area remained safe for residents.”
The city’s approach to the intersection, which organically became a hub for racial justice demonstrations and a much-visited destination, has varied since Floyd’s murder in May 2020. The suit alleges the city allowed a “No Go Zone” for police officers in the area immediately around the intersection, allowing crime to thrive.
The city removed a number of concrete barriers in June 2021, but Michael Healey, an attorney representing the businesses, said the financial losses continued through this year.
“Instead of helping Plaintiffs achieve racial equity and economic prosperity, the City consciously decided to allow concrete barricades to surround Cup Foods for over one year, which economically devastated a minority-owned business in a minority-dominant neighborhood,” the suit says. “The City actively hindered Plaintiffs’ economic success and jeopardized the safety within and surrounding Plaintiffs’ businesses.”
The city offered $50,000 in forgivable loans to businesses in the area. In 2021, Cup Foods took one such loan, “but that amount is not nearly enough to compensate Cup Foods for the economic turmoil,” the suit contends.
The value of the properties plummeted from $2 million before Floyd’s murder to less than $200,000 last year, the suit adds.
Healey said the city was served with the complaint a year ago, a move that typically offers the parties a chance to settle before going to court. No settlement was reached.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the current ownership of the building where Cup Foods operated. The building’s longtime owners, who are among plaintiffs suing the city of Minneapolis, now leases the Cup Foods space to the operators of Unity Foods.
This epoch is ending. We all know it.
Our job wasn’t to vote our way out of this mess, but to survive it.
Nature is starting to heal.