The news feed is full of stories of police and violence these days. In some situations it’s abuse by police, such as the clearing of Lafayette Park, an elderly protester in Buffalo getting pushed to the concrete or a photojournalist losing an eye. In some cases it’s violence against the police, such as the former St. Louis police captain turned small town police chief who was killed trying to defend a store from looters, or a Las Vegas police officer on life support after being shot in the neck, or a NYPD officer stabbed while on guard duty against looters.
Neither the protesters nor the police, en masse, are right or wrong. There are individuals and subgroups who are. In many cases throughout the country protesters are peaceful and orderly, the police are concerned about protecting their citizens, and everything progresses without damage. In some areas the police are professional and there are criminals within the protesters. In other areas some police are abusive and the protesters are peaceful. In a few locations both groups have demonstrably bad actors.
The one constant in all of it is that there are local residents and business owners who have suffered in the areas where violence has erupted. These are people who have had the misfortune to reside or work in the areas where some people have decided to foment discord. They’ve seen windows smashed, businesses and homes burned, and necessary supplies like food and medicine grow scarce, through no fault of their own.
Independent of the important issues of violence against law enforcement and abuses by police that are taking up the bulk of media attention, and the political activities which are consuming much of the remaining media oxygen, the needs of those who are suffering must be addressed.
Right now, local businesses – “Mom & Pop Stores” – throughout the country are in trouble due to covid-19. In some places, they are facing limited hours due to shutdowns; in others, they are facing diminished traffic due to viral transmission concerns. In nearly all of them, revenues were already down due to weeks of nationwide shutdown. People who are in a situation where they can shop locally and keep small businesses afloat must be urged to do so.
The riots bring a different variable into the equation. Typically, the best resource to provide relief is a local community… but in these cases, the communities themselves have been damaged, and in places like Minneapolis some of them have been ravaged. They simply don’t have the resources to properly rebuild.
There’s even an element which addresses the current racial frictions: a majority of businesses in some of these locations, like Minneapolis, are black owned and operated. Helping them can help everyone living in that area.
Righteous anger has its place, but so does compassion and providing aid to those who need it. For anyone who wishes to try to help rebuilding efforts – whether by donating a little bit themselves or by passing the word to some people who might be able to help – here are some links.
Here’s one to help rebuild businesses after the Lake Street fires in Minneapolis, run by the a local organization: WeLoveLakeStreet. As of this writing, it’s currently sitting around $4.8 million.
There’s also one for the various small restaurants within the Midtown Global Market, a food hall that was the home for a variety of start-up businesses in the area as well as a food pantry that had begun in response to unemployment spikes following the covid-19 outbreak. They’re trying to raise $250K to rebuild, and are currently around $120K.
I’m not normally inclined to stand with Ja’Mal D. Green, an activist in Chicago who has been prone to calling out the police both when they have engaged in abuses and when I believe they’ve acted responsibly. In this case, however, he’s stepped up to the plate and has initiated a fundraiser to cover repair costs for Chicago businesses damaged by rioting. He’s aiming for $50K and is already at $40K.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Madison, Wisconsin is spearheading an effort to repair widespread damage in that city. Attempting to raise $200K, they’ve raised $180K.
There are a variety of other attempts to get rebuilding funds. They’ve arisen in every city where widespread looting and destruction occurred. In most of those places, though, the efforts have been targeted to a specific business or nonprofit organization. They can be identified through simple web research for individual cities, should anyone be so inclined.
Businesses and jobs are needed if anyone is to entertain the hope of a successful life. For those inclined to help others, this is a perfect opportunity to do so.