Viewpoint from a former Minneapolitan

Jun 2, 2020

For the past four years of my life, I lived in Minneapolis.

Normally, the city is known for having some of the most gorgeous summers and parks you can ever see, along with some of the kindest and most generous people in this country. 

And, as far as I know, it’s the only city that has a mayor I can beat at bar trivia while wearing a Bruins jersey. 

Yes, this really happened — although Mayor Jacob Frey may deny it if asked.

Now, protests and riots have ripped across my former home in an explosion of pain and fury over the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. 

Rioters have turned protests against police brutality into an opportunity to sow chaos. Buildings I know, on familiar streets, have been looted or lit on fire.

Businesses I once did stories on are now boarded up, while college professors and friends have had to evacuate the Twin Cities as their own neighborhoods burn.

State and local police have used tear gas and rubber bullets against not just protesters, but also journalists — many of them former colleagues and instructors of mine who are simply trying to capture what is going on in their city.

Seeing these events unfold has been just so surreal. 

I love Minneapolis. I am convinced it is one of the greatest cities in the world. But for many residents of color, it has never been that way. 

These folks aren’t rising up because of one injustice — they are rising up because of a moral failure to address injustice over the centuries.

As tough as it has been to see my former home city burn, I have also seen the good in what the people of Minneapolis are doing. Many residents have come together to put out fires, clean up broken glass, protect businesses, and provide medical assistance to injured protesters.

Minneapolis will come back, and will be better than ever. The first step is to acknowledge that the black lives of not just that city, but all over this world, matter.

Christopher Shea reports for Dartmouth Week.