Preparing Physically and Emotionally for the Chauvin Trial
Anna Tsantir, Founder Lady, Two Bettys Green Cleaning
March 8, 2021
At Two Bettys, we have been attending many community meetings and conversations about the upcoming Chauvin trial, to discuss what they may mean for our community on the Lake Street Corridor. Just as important are the discussions about the trauma and loss the trial will bring back—memories of the uprising and civil unrest of 2020. Compounding this past trauma is the ongoing racial injustice in Minnesota—our state currently ranks the second worst in the nation for racial equity.
Two Bettys is working to raise awareness about the impact of last May’s uprising with folks living and working outside the directly affected areas. Our goal is to help people in the wider Twin Cities metro area understand how organizations in heavily impacted areas (South Minneapolis, North Minneapolis, Downtown, and Lake Street) are doing now, and how they’re feeling about the upcoming trials.
We recently surveyed a handful of Minneapolis business owners who were in the impact zones. We asked them to weigh in about how they’re preparing for the Chauvin trial, both as businesses and emotionally as humans. Let’s hear what they had to say:
Participants: Cathy Heying – Lift Garage, on Lake Street since 2018
Ricardo Levins Morales – RLM Art Studio, on Minnehaha Ave since 2010
ZoeAna Martinez – Senior Community Engagement Manager, Lake Street Council and lifelong community resident.
How are you or your organization preparing for the Chauvin trials?
Ricardo: We are not making any special preparations.
ZoeAna:Our role as a nonprofit association is to serve and advocate for Lake Street businesses. We’re offering a few different supports to Lake Street businesses right now as they prepare for the trial. We know that many business owners are concerned about the potential for civil unrest. Hundreds of businesses along Lake Street were impacted by demonstrations last year, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in collective damage. Many of them were small businesses that are still working to reopen. Our role as a nonprofit association is to serve and advocate for these Lake Street businesses.
Have you attended/hosted any community meetings? Is there anything you’ve heard about preparations/communications that you are pleased with?
Cathy: I have attended conversations with other businesses leaders through the Longfellow Business Association as well as a community meeting held by the Lake St Council with Chief Arradondo. I am pleased with how much the members of the community are talking with one another and building important relationships. It is so important that the community stand together to create safe space for those who are hurting while also keeping our businesses safe.
ZoeAna:We recently hosted with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and other officials where business owners could ask questions and learn more about trial preparations. Lake Street Council has information regarding the preparations and communications of upcoming trial and recordings of recent conversations with Chief Medaria Arradondo in English & Spanish here: https://www.visitlakestreet.com/trial-preparation-resources
Is there anything you have heard about in regards to planning for these trials that you’re concerned about?
Cathy: I struggle with what sounds like will be a very hefty law enforcement presence in our neighborhood and other parts of the city. It is a hard tension, because of course I don’t want our neighborhoods to suffer the damage they did last summer, but I also am keenly aware of how traumatizing that level of armed soldiers, police and other law enforcement can be on people living in the neighborhood.
Ricardo: I’m concerned about the massive paramilitary preparations. During the protests of George Floyd’s killing, the police and national guard both engaged in violent and illegal assaults (not only on protesters but also bystanders). Slashing tires, targeting medics and press, etc. This kind of deployment guarantees heightened tension and anger regardless of the trial’s outcome.
If you could get a message to Arradondo and/or Frey, what would it be?
Cathy: I want to be assured that all of the law enforcement that will be descending on our city will not be firing tear gas/chemicals/rubber bullets on people gathered to raise their voices and exercise their First Amendment rights.
Ricardo: Get serious about lowering tensions. Instead of troops and razor wire, spend the funds to provide hot coffee, healing/counseling tents, live music and porta-potties.
What do you want the larger Twin Cities and surrounding areas to know about what you as a business owner/organizational rep/community member would like to see, or what you need in March and April?
ZoeAna:We believe public safety policy change is one of the most important issues facing Minneapolis leadership right now. The Lake Street Council is working with community businesses and residents on this through the South Minneapolis Public Safety Coalition. This coalition is advocating for several public safety changes, including significant increased investment in coordinated street outreach geared toward violence prevention and supportive services.