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Web_Healing Justice 04

She gets people talking

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Shanene Herbert of Healing Justice St. Paul engages youth through power of words

Shanene Herbert at the “Youth Will Rise” March on July 3, 2020 on the University of Minnesota Campus. Over 100 people gathered to celebrate the perseverance of youth of color, especially lifting up this year’s high school and college graduates. They carried their message through the neighborhood despite punishingly high heat and humidity, ending with a celebration at Father Hennepin Bluffs. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By Margie O’Loughlin
Shanene Herbert chooses her words carefully.
In her work as Healing Justice St. Paul Program Director, she helps Black and Brown youth find theirs. The program she leads is under the umbrella of the American Friends Service Committee: a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. She works with Saint Paul Public Schools administrators, teachers, and students to build community and repair harm.
She gets people talking.
Before COVID-19, participants in her group sessions would gather in a facilitated circle to talk about race and racism. Now it happens via Zoom, but Black and Brown students still have a chance to build their knowledge and language.
They learn how to recognize racism, and they learn how to organize against it using direct action.
According to Herbert, making sure young people enter into intentional conversation around race and racism is crucial. She said, “People of color have been dealing with the pandemic of systemic racism for more than 400 years. Young people are enraged. They don’t have the patience that their parents and grandparents did. Their generation expects things to happen quickly.”
She continued, “We have to give them the tools to deal with their hurt, their anger, and their fear. Most of these kids don’t have access to quality mental healthcare. How do we keep them from self-medicating with drugs at this time? How will they function with distance learning or with classroom learning in the fall? Will they be ready to take standardized tests when they do go back to school? What words can they find to describe this moment that we’re in?”

‘When we cry for help, no one is going to save us’
In the Twin Cities, we are living in the past and the present simultaneously. Racial injustice has been happening for years on end but people, especially young people, are reacting to it very differently now – as if a line has finally been drawn in the sand.
Again, Herbert chose her words carefully. She said, “George Floyd was lynched in South Minneapolis, in what was historically a Black neighborhood. Notice that I said ‘lynched’, not murdered or killed. This is an important distinction for people of color. We need to be clear with our language.”
She continued, “When you see historical photos of lynchings, there’s a coldness in the killers’ eyes – just like there was in former officer Derek Chauvin’s. And the way he had his hands in his pockets, that was a power move. That image reminds us of all the power we do not have. It reminds us that when even we cry out for help, no one is going to save us.”
Herbert sees this as the time for changing that narrative. She said, “If you have power, you’re likely going to be comfortable all the time. If you don’t have power, you’re always living with a level of discomfort.”

Getting unconfortable is necessary step toward change
Talking about race and racism makes many white Minnesotans very uncomfortable, but feeling uncomfortable is a necessary step toward change. Herbert, who is from New York City, moved to St. Paul at 17 and graduated from Como Senior High School. She said, “Many Black and Brown people who live in Minnesota aren’t from here; they moved from Chicago or Milwaukee, or their parents migrated from the South. We’re of a different make up. We’re a more communal kind of people.”
She continued, “With the pandemic, Black and Brown people were relegated to their homes just like everybody else – but because of our communal nature, we may have found it harder. Our jobs are more likely to be threatened by the pandemic, our family members are dying at disproportionately higher rates from COVID-19, and we were doing badly in this country already.”
When Herbert looks back at her own evolution as an activist, she knows exactly when it started. Arriving at Como Senior High School as a senior, she signed up for an African and African American Studies class. To her surprise, the teacher was white. When she asked why he was teaching the class, the teacher said, “We don’t have a Black teacher here who is licensed to teach it. I wish you would go out and get your degree, and come back and teach this class.”
Herbert went on to the University of Minnesota, graduated with a degree in African and African American Studies, and has been working as an educator/activist ever since.

Name and identify
In the aftermath of the uprising, St. Paul and Minneapolis are busy picking up the pieces. Herbert said, “While the buildings can be rebuilt, we are left with the harder job of addressing race and racism where we live. This work, this emotional labor, is exhausting. I believe that one of the good things that will come out of this time is true honesty, true transparency.“
She added, “At Healing Justice Program St. Paul, we will continue to engage youth in the conversation, without talking around or about them. We will continue to help them name and identify what is happening to them.”
For more information on the work of Healing Justice Program St. Paul, visit the website of the American Friends Service Committee at www.afsc.org/office/st-paul-minn, or email Shanene Herbert at sherbert@afsc.org.

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Help kids through trauma

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Telling his own children about George Floyd’s death was one of hardest things Rev. Ronald Bell ever did

Reverend Dr. Ronald Bell Jr. with his wife, Dr. Eboni Bell, and his two sons. Bell encouraged them to keep moving and get out to help the community by handing out Trauma Bags in order to educate others on guiding children through trauma they have experienced. (Photo submitted)

By CHLOE PETER
When Reverend Dr. Ronald Bell Jr. sat down with his two sons (ages five and eight) to explain the death of George Floyd and the events that followed, one burst into tears and the other questioned why this was happening.
He wanted to know why a police officer would do this to anybody.
“It was one of the hardest moments in my life,” Bell said. “I could see my five year old’s faith in authority, white people and the system crumble in front of me as I tried to explain.”
The death of George Floyd has impacted many – and especially, children and young adults who may not fully understand what has been going on throughout the United States or right at home the past couple of weeks. Bell is a pastor for Camphor Memorial United Methodist at 585 Fuller Ave in St. Paul. He studied ministry for young adults at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Penn. He believes that parents need to have a conversation with their children about what is going on.
“They are experiencing this fundamentally different than adults are,” Bell said. “As a child, they don’t differentiate that all police aren’t bad, all white folk aren’t bad, so we’ve got to help them get moving in a way that is healing.”

Be vulnerable with kids and focus on truth
After explaining what happened to his boys, Bell had them hand out trauma healing bags in order to engage them physically in helping the community. These bags included things like toys, coloring books, information for parents about children who have been through trauma and books with people of color as leads. All of these were aimed at helping children to heal from the trauma that they have witnessed and to begin to feel more like kids again. By the end of the day, they had helped give out more than 210 trauma healing bags to those in need. Donations for the bags and other resources can be made at the church’s website, CamphorConnects.com.
“It was important to them [Bell’s children] to hear me say ‘Here’s who we are as a family, we love people, we honor people, we serve, protect and help people. That’s who we are,’” Bell said.
Bell believes that parents should be vulnerable when having this conversation with their children. And, to focus on the truth. Parents don’t need to go into details but talk about what’s right and wrong. His advice for everyone going through these difficult times is to remember that you are here in this very specific time and place for a reason, and to trust the power of time.

Trauma affects physical health
Immediately after watching the video of George Floyd’s death, Bell reached out to find those who were recording. He hoped that he would be able to get counseling or help in general for the people who were there. Going through trauma not only impacts the emotional state, but also the physical being of a person, he pointed out. According to a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emotional trauma can set off the body’s stress responses.
“These people [People of Color] are sitting with trauma that is undealt with, and because of this, their bodies become acidic and are more susceptible to diseases like COVID-19,” Bell said.
Although Bell believes that there are some things that can be done to start healing from the trauma, he believes that people should sit in the discomfort that these times bring. Bell encourages not only young adults, but everyone to get engaged physically in the healing of the community. And, to ask themselves how they can get out and serve.
“It can be as easy as going to a food kitchen and just serving or doing artwork, but how are you physically engaged in this moment?” asked Bell. “I think the danger of this moment is to stay stagnant.”

‘We weren’t able to move away’
Bell observed that there’s a cycle that must be broken. This time, there wasn’t just a hashtag and march before people moved on. Protests happened globally and are still happening in many states. Four hundred National Guard troops were sent out to protect national monuments in Washington. D.C. on June 24, 2020. Protestors camped outside of New York’s City Hall the night of June 23, 2020. Both the protests and trauma surrounding the death of George Floyd demand to be seen and heard.
“With George Floyd, we weren’t able to move away,” Bell said. “This is the first time that the globe has had to sit with and acknowledge that this problem is systemic.”

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Ryan Vernosh

Maxfield students, teachers wrestle with COVID-19, George Floyd’s murder

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

I Am Somebody

Maxfield Elementary School Principal Ryan Vernosh had just four days to lead Maxfield into a completely different learning environment. AT RIGHT The poem ‘I Am Somebody’ is said each day by Maxfield Elementary students to encourage them through their day. (Photo submitted)

By CHLOE PETER
School happening remotely has impacted students and families with more than just technical problems.
Maxfield Elementary School, 380 N Victoria St. in St. Paul, has a food pantry on site for students and families in need. They collaborate with Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, an organization that works with families and students in the Frogtown, Rondo, and Summit-University neighborhoods to support their needs and approach the gap between education and opportunity.
Maxfield provides dental care, extra clothing, counseling, social work and mental health care to students and families. All of these have been greatly impacted by COVID-19.
“Some families lost employment, so access to healthcare became more challenging, access to food became more challenging. We’ve seen the current unemployment crisis that we’ve had in the city and our community, which was just exasperated by the pandemic,” said Maxfield Principal Ryan Vernosh.
During school hours, Maxfield Elementary would normally be bustling with 300 students going in and out of the library, gym and classrooms. Teachers would be preparing for another day of classes. Their rooms filled with colorful banners and encouragement for the students. But, for the last four months of school, the halls were mostly empty. COVID-19 had drastically impacted what Maxfield, and all schools around the state, looked like in their last stretch before summer break.

Four days to restructure
Vernosh has been principal at Maxfield Elementary School for three years now. He’s overseen budgets and paperwork. He supports the students and staff – and makes sure they are doing well socially, emotionally, and academically. He’s never had to deal with something like this before. Maxfield was tasked with changing an entire learning environment in just four days.
“Our staff really rose to it and we did the best that we could to connect with our kids and keep them learning and supported,” Vernosh said.
The staff had meetings on a weekly basis in order to stop and assess how online learning was going, and to make any changes they felt was necessary for their students. St. Paul Public Schools has a one-to-one iPad policy, so everyone had access to online classes. The district provided hot spots for families without high speed internet, although, they still had many technology issues. Professionals came in for classes in order to instruct the teachers on how to use Schoology and Seesaw, two online learning platforms, to their full advantages.
They also had educators’ workshops and presentations. During these workshops, teachers presented what was working and what wasn’t to other educators around the school. Each teacher visited at least three other presentations in order to get ideas about how to better their online classroom. But, it was still difficult to keep students engaged with online learning.
“You just can’t mimic in person instruction,” Vernosh said, “Our teachers did the best they could to carry on instruction, but it’s just not the same.”

 

I Am Somebody
I am Somebody!
I am capable and loveable.
I am teachable,
therefore I can learn.
I can do anything if I try.
I’ll be the best that I can be.
Each day,
Each day,
Each day,
I will not waste time.
Because it is too valuable
And I am too precious and bright.
I am somebody.
I am somebody.
I AM SOMEBODY

Cocreating safe places
Vernosh wanted Maxfield to continue being a safe space for both staff and students to come to. Especially after the murder of George Floyd two weeks before school ended, students began to have more questions. The St. Paul Public School District sent out information in order to support teachers, and to help guide them through questions students may have or how to go about explaining the events happening. The staff had many conversations about how best to create a community of support for their students. They needed to keep things grade appropriate, as well. Kindergartners may understand less of the situation than a fifth grader.
“Our kids are aware of what’s going on whether it’s COVID or the murder of George Floyd,” Vernosh said. “Part of our role is to listen and be supportive; to cocreate a safe space for our students and families to be able to process these things.”
Maxfield aimed to never shut down a conversation that brought up any questions about COVID-19 or the murder of George Floyd. In order to fully create this safe space, the school implemented things like a restorative morning circle. This was a time where students could sit and express themselves. It also included guiding questions, activities, or a review of what lessons would be taught that day. The school wanted to focus on community building along with mindfulness for the students. Through the Cultural Wellness Center, an organization that helps communities solve problems that come due to loss of culture, the students take African drumming and dance classes in order to make sure students see their culture in each area of the school.
“If our students don’t feel seen and heard and loved, learning is not going to take place,” Vernosh said.
They have a call-and-response over the intercom each morning to let students know that they are here and being heard. This daily affirmation poem, “I Am Somebody,” is said to remind the students that they are teachable, loveable and capable.

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Will Midway Center be demolished?

Posted on 15 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

City’s first step preserves use of TIF for redevelopment

By JANE McCLURE

Tenants at the Midway Center, damaged by fire and vandalism on May 28, are being forced to move out. Their leases have been revoked effective July 17, 2020, but it is unclear what will happen to the building. Over 170 businesses were damaged in the Midway following the murder of George Floyd. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Before fire-damaged building at Midway Center can be demolished, steps must be taken to preserve possible use of tax increment financing (TIF) for redevelopment. The St. Paul City Council, acting June 24 as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board, got that effort rolling with two actions.
The HRA approved a demolition and development agreement with Snelling-Midway Redevelopment, LLC, the partnership involved in redeveloping the superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues. Midway Center owner Rick Birdoff and Bill McGuire, who has led Minnesota United FC’s efforts to get Allianz Field built on the southwest part of the property, are the development partners. The soccer team starts its second season in Midway this month.
When the TIF request would come forward isn’t known. City officials this summer are already waiting for the developers to request amendments to the redevelopment master plan. Any plan amendments will go to the St. Paul Planning Commission for review and a recommendation, and then to the city council for final action.
The superblock is governed by a master plan that won city council approval few years ago. It calls for a mix of uses including commercial/office, hotel space and housing. The plan was developed with input from a community/St. Paul Planning Commission task force.
McGuire met earlier this year with Union Park District Council to discuss mixed-use development in the form of two buildings west of the soccer stadium. He also described how plans for a movie theater likely won’t occur, but that a hotel and housing are still in the mix.
Metropolitan Council June awarded the United Village Midway Block B $125,000 for cleanup on a 2.4-acre site that is currently a surface parking lot. Plans call for 234 market-rate apartments and 15,500 square feet of commercial space over structured parking.
But how those plans for redevelopment are affected by the fire damage isn’t clear. One finding required under state TIF law is that structures be deemed “substandard” before a district can be implemented.
The HRA on June 24 also made certain findings, including the determination that the Big Top Liquors and Midway Center structures are substandard. The liquor store located in the former Perkins restaurant building at 1544 University Ave. and the northeast section of the shopping center at University and Pascal were extensively damaged during the unrest after George Floyd’s death in May.
TIF is a mean of public financing that is used to pay for redevelopment costs including infrastructure, demolition and other development-related costs. Cities divert future property tax revenues that would be gained through redevelopment back into specific project costs. TIF districts can only be in place for a set number of years. It is controversial because it takes away potential property taxes for other local units of government. But in the face of fewer development tools, TIF is one of the remaining options.
TIF for Midway Center redevelopment has sparked controversy among city council members in the past, but the June 24 actions passed unanimously. Council members Dai Thao and Mitra Jalai spoke to the need for redevelopment, and community members’ eagerness to see something happen.
Interim St. Paul Planning and Economic Development (PED) Director Kristin Guild emphasized that the actions taken June 24 simply preserve the option to use TIF in the redevelopment project. It’s not a commitment that the financing tool will be used. If the developers choose to use TIF, a separate application would be brought before the HRA and city council.
Nor is it even a commitment to demolish or restore the structures, Guild said. As of late June demolition permits for the properties hadn’t been pulled. The sites are fenced off.
“The Big Top Liquor building is really severely damaged,” Guild said. So too is Midway Center, with the worst damage centered on the former Foot Locker store. Fire, smoke and water damage spread to adjacent stores
In September 2017, the HRA made findings to qualify parcels within the Snelling Midway development site as a “renewal and renovation TIF district.” That allowed for demolition of the first structures to move ahead and make way for the stadium and its nearby green space and parking. The longtime Big Top building on Snelling between Shields Ave. and Spruce Tree Dr., the former American Bank building at Snelling and University, and the western portion of Midway Center that included Cub Foods, Midway Pro Bowl and other businesses came down.
But the damage in June to Big Top and the rest of the shopping center meant that a new analysis and new findings should be prepared, Guild said.

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UJAMAA_LOGO

Q&A with Otis Zanders of Ujamaa Place

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By Elena Vaughn

Otis Zanders of Ujaama Place

Otis Zanders has had enough. “As the CEO of an organization that serves the most marginalized population in society, African American men, aged 18-30, Ujamaa Place (1821 University Ave. W. n187, St. Paul) serves on the front lines of the war on injustice by helping men navigate systemic poverty and racism, connection to the criminal justice system, homelessness and unemployment.”

What is the current situation as you see it?

Our nation has been in crisis for decades.  George Floyd’s murder was where the world said enough is enough and [it] happened at a time when the world was stood still from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Why are we here? What factors brought us to this point in time?

Our hearts are broken from the generational trauma and human rights atrocities that our people have suffered for 400 years since the recording of the first slave ship’s arrival in the U.S. We must allow the voices and strength of our ancestors to guide us through these unprecedented times and the challenging waters ahead.

 

How can white people support the Black Lives Matter movement? Can you define what “ally” means to you?

Allies can support us by denouncing racism and inequality in all forms.  An “ally” is a human being.  There is one race, the human race.

 

What needs to change in Minnesota to address the systematic racism?

NOW is the time to strategize ways to confront systemic racism in every form of injustice that exists in Minnesota. We have to change. History is being written that will teach future generations that freedom and equality is not a given. We must fight for it.  Starting NOW, Minnesota must stand on the right side of history.

 

What is your reaction to the peaceful protests and the looting?

As the son of sharecroppers from the Mississippi Delta, I witnessed firsthand at a very young age, the clear connection between the legacy of slavery and American Capitalism. Today as a husband, father, and CEO of Ujamaa Place, I still see the ways in which the legacy of slavery lives on through systemic racism and plays out in the everyday lives of African Americans. We pray that the solidarity we are witnessing from around the world is a sign that we are collectively ready to pluck the ugly root of systemic racism for good. We regret that it took the murders of George Floyd, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others for people to finally be fed up. We stand on mighty shoulders that taught us freedom and justice is not a given, and that we must continue to teach each generation to fight for equality.

 

Watch the YouTube video of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explain why people protest.  “A Riot Is The Language of the Unheard.” There is no enjoyment derived from watching a city burned or looted.

 

In 1968, Martin Luther King asked “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” How do you see the impact of these protests carrying on King’s legacy?  Where do we go from here as a community?

 

The world witnessed George Floyd take his last breath as the knee of a white police officer lay on his neck restricting his airways, with members of the community pleading for his life. This was a reminder that we are not yet FREE from the bonds of slavery. The institution of slavery and its byproducts – racism, inequality, poverty and injustice are alive and well in our society today. This is why at Ujamaa Place, we focus on teaching our men to navigate systems of racism and ways to eliminate roadblocks that perpetuate inequality.

 

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Ron Johnson remembers Lloyd’s

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Ron Johnson was working at Target when he heard Lloyd’s Pharmacy was for sale in 1974.
He headed to the longtime pharmacy at Snelling and Minnehaha to meet Lloyd Jensen, the 25-year owner.
“He was one of the nicest people I’d ever met,” recalled Johnson, who is 74 years old now. “Thoughtful.” It didn’t take Johnson long to decide to buy the business.
Johnson sought to be a good asset to the neighborhood as Lloyd had, and Florian Ritschel had before him.

Click here to read article titled: Lloyd’s, Menopause Center burn to ground

The son of German immigrants opened Florian’s Pharmacy in 1918 after purchasing the building at 720 Snelling in Hamline, Minn. It had been built in 1914 and previously housed a millinery shop. “He was the kind of guy who ran a lot of different promotions,” recalled Johnson.
Lloyd purchased the pharmacy in 1949, renaming it.
When Johnson bought it, he never thought of changing the name. Everyone knew Lloyd and respected him.
Johnson worked to keep the store as Lloyd had, greeting all of his customers by name. “There’s a huge difference between the business at Target and Lloyd’s,” observed Johnson. “Lloyd’s customers are really special people.”
Although Johnson grew to own six pharmacies in St. Paul, Rochester, and Arden Hills (where he lived), he always worked out of the Lloyd’s location. For a time, Lloyd continued to live in the apartment above the store, coming down to chat with former customers. Florian dropped by, too.

Lloyd’s Pharmacy, 1985

Johnson started as the pharmacist at the store with one other staff member, and his wife helped out on the weekends when she wasn’t working as a school speech therapist.
At one time, there were about 10 independent pharmacies along Snelling, Johnson pointed out, and hundreds in St. Paul. Today, there are very few, and Lloyd’s is one of the only still compounding medications there on site.
It was important to him to keep it as an independent pharmacy.
“Lloyd’s Pharmacy has been a great part of the community, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” said Johnson. He sold the pharmacy in 2014 to his head pharmacist, Jim Stage.
One of his former staff members called Johnson on Thursday, May 28, 2020 to let him know the store had been looted. He discovered the next morning that it had also been set on fire and burned to the ground.

Ron Johnson

In his grief, he held onto what his son said to him. “‘The lumber, the wood is gone, but you still have the memories.’ That was an important time in my life,” said Johnson about the 40 years he spent at the pharmacy.

Four owners in 102 years
• Florian Ritschel: 31 years, 1918-1949
• Lloyd Jenson: 25 years,
1949-1974
• Ron Johnson: 40 years,
1974-2014
• Jim Stage: 2014-present

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Lloyd’s, Menopause Center burn to ground

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

102-year-old pharmacy burns during uprising, owners forgive looters

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Midway resident Beverly Jones has bought medicine at Lloyd’s Pharmacy since the 1970s, when they delivered to her home. A few of her kids worked there, as well. “This is a death here, it really is,” she said on Friday, May 29 as she looked over the damage. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The Hamline Midway community is mourning the loss of the 102-year-old pharmacy at the corner of Snelling and Minnehaha that burned to the ground on Friday morning, May 29, 2020.
It was part of rioting and looting following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers earlier in the week. In the Midway, Big Top Liquors, Bole Ethiopian/Napa, Sports Dome, Footlocker and Great Clips were also destroyed by fire. About 170 businesses in the Midway and 530 overall in the Twin Cities were looted causing as estimated $500 million in damages. An estimated 67 were destroyed by fire, with the majority of those in the area covered by the Monitor’s sister newspaper, the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger.
Lloyd’s Pharmacy and the Menopause Center owner Jim Stage plans to rebuild, spurred on by the wish of the community. Right now, customers from Lloyd’s are being served by Setzer’s Pharmacy in Roseville (1685 Rice St., 651-488-0251). They’re also seeing customers from other pharmacies that were damaged.

Lloyd’s to set up temporary
location in Midway
Stage also owns Setzer’s, and was among the 20 staff members from Lloyd’s and Setzer’s working out of that location on Thursday, June 4 when he spoke with the Monitor via phone. Unfortunately, with the loss of the compounding lab on the second floor of Lloyd’s, pharmacists are not able to do any compounding right now, according to Stage. Customers using this service came from across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
He is working to set up a temporary location in the Midway for Lloyd’s and hopes to have that up and running soon. He was waiting for his computer records system to be recreated on Thursday, but pointed out that his longtime staff know their customers so well that they were working with them to fill orders earlier in the week.

Firefighters were called at about 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 28 to the corner of Minnehaha and Snelling, but weren’t able to save the building. Owner Jim Stage plans to rebuild, but estimates it will take one year. (Photo by Rich Trout )

‘Police never came’
It started as a regular day on Thursday, May 28. Stage had bought the staff lunch from Checkerboard Pizza, and while picking it up the staff member saw CVS Pharmacy being looted across the street.
He returned to the pharmacy, alerted Stage, and they began locking the door between customers. At 3:15, they made the decision to close for the day. In hindsight, Stage wishes they would have grabbed the server and other items. The Menopause Center staff member at the back of the building also left.
At about 4:30 p.m., people began to break in and loot the store. Based on surveillance footage, Stage estimates that 100-150 people vandalized the store.
“The police never came,” Stage said. “That still baffles me. There was no help. They had to protect Alliance Field and all the big things, I guess.”
At about 10/10:30 p.m., the fire was set and firefighters responded.
Stage didn’t realize how badly the building was damaged until Friday morning at 7 a.m. The fire department had leveled the building in so that the fire didn’t spread. Up until then, Stage had thought they could fix the existing structure.
“When I drove up to it on Friday morning, I was pretty devastated,” said Stage. A week later, Stage views the complete destruction as “almost a relief from God. We would have probably had to rebuild the whole main level and [the building] might have needed to go anyway.”
Stage doesn’t know who set the fire or why.
“It doesn’t matter the reason,” said Stage. “We forgive the people who did it.”
At first, he wondered what to do next, and he’s been buoyed up by the care and concern members of the community have shown. They’ve told him how much the pharmacy means to them and that they don’t want it to go away, but are pushing him to rebuild.
A GoFundMe page had raised over $100,000 as of press time. “The community has been great,” said Stage. “It’s really amazing to me, my wife and our five kids. With God’s help, we’ll be able to do it. We know it is a tall order.”
Stage has also been encouraged by his staff of just under 40 people, who want to continue working at Lloyd’s and have risen up to help figure out details for customers despite the loss of records immediately after the fire.
“It’s a beautiful thing. That’s what encourages me,” said Stage. “I was devastated, but my employees have shown the resolve and so many people want the pharmacy rebuilt. It inspires me and gives me motivation.”

Ward 4 City Council Member Mitra Jalali visited Lloyd’s Pharmacy owner Jim Stage and his hardworking staff on June 3 at their sister location, Setzer’s on Rice Street, with donuts and coffee for the team that works long hours to help impacted customers still get medications. “The loss of Lloyd’s has been nothing short of tragic to our Midway neighborhood, but they’re planning a pop-up location nearby their old spot in the coming weeks, and will also be working on a public art memorial for their beloved Snelling location lost to fire. My heart goes out to the entire team at Lloyd’s, and we’ll keep working with you to support your rebuilding in any way possible,” said Jalali. “Our community will continue to show up for you, just like you have for us for decades.” (Photo courtesy of Mitra Jalali)

Lloyd’s serves 8,000 customers
Stage grew up in the Midway and graduated from Concordia Academy in Roseville class of 2000. His uncle suggested he might enjoy a career in pharmacy because he liked science and math, so he tried it out and agreed. He earned his degree from North Dakota State University and interned at Lloyd’s. His first job was at CVS as there wasn’t an opening at Lloyd’s, but after two years Lloyd’s owner Ron Johnson called him up and asked if he’d like to work as a pharmacist at his Rochester location. Stage moved the family down and worked at Hunt’s Pharmacy for three years, but he wanted to return to the Midway area.
“I learned a lot about independent pharmacies,” Stage recalled, and he realized he wanted to own and operate his own. When a position opened up at Lloyd’s in December 2011, he returned.
In 2014, at age 33, Stage purchased the pharmacy and its building. Much of running the business has been learned as he goes. “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never do it,” Stage observed.

Click here to read related article: Ron Johnson’s remembers Lloyd’s

He bought Setzer’s in Roseville from Gary Raines in 2017. The two stores have operated independently. He also owned Schneider Drug off University but sold it to CVS last year.
It’s a tough time for independent pharmacies, according to Stage, because of Pharmacist Benefit Managers (PBR). “They’ve been brutal to us,” Stage said. “They manipulate the market.”
Pharmacies are punished if customers don’t refill their prescriptions on time and money they were paid is pulled back, so a business owner never fully knows what their income will be, he explained.
Because of its compounding work, Lloyd’s income has been steadier. The store serves 8,000 people, and about 15% of the work is compounding.
“The goal is to serve the community, and get back into business and fill people’s prescriptions that are needed on a daily basis,” said Stage. “As a business owner, I’m just called to forgive. I’m thankful no one was hurt and we can move on.”

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Web_Truce Center 12

How to shrink the racial divide?

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

A conversation with the Truce Center’s Miki Lewis

Miki Lewis is the founder and director of the Truce Center in St. Paul. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The first time Summit University resident Miki Lewis saw George Floyd he thought, “Now, there’s a big guy. Being from African American neighborhoods, a lot of us come up thinking we have to show aggression – but George was different. He was very peaceful.”
Lewis explained, “We met in truck driving school in 2017, when George had been in Minneapolis for a couple of years. We naturally gravitated toward each other, and got to be friends.
“We were together for three months in training. I learned a lot about George in a short period of time. He was from Houston. He came to Minnesota for a fresh start. We both completed the training, and saw each other a few times after that. I hadn’t seen George in five months prior to this happening. When I learned about it on Facebook, I couldn’t believe it.”
Lewis continued, “For a lot of us, it’s the way George was killed that is fueling the anger right now. We’ve seen officers shoot us over and over again. To a certain extent, we’ve gotten desensitized to shooting. In the eyes of our community, it was the level of non-compassion that we saw in the killing. That officer just tucked his hand in his pocket and looked down on George as if he were nothing.”
Lewis runs a non-violence initiative in the Summit University neighborhood called the Truce Center, and he is no stranger to violence himself. He said, “I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been shot, I’ve been homeless, I’ve been hungry, I’ve been cold.”
Out of these hard times, Lewis emerged with a strong faith and a commitment to assist in making the world a more peaceful place. It can often feel like an uphill battle, but Lewis presses on. He said, “I’m not scared anymore because, unfortunately, I’ve gotten used to this. There will be another unarmed black man murdered by a white officer, that’s no secret. We have a president who is inciting racial differences among us: I believe he’s trying to fuel further division, to fuel a race war. That divide is being driven even harder as time goes on. It seems like the divide is growing bigger, not smaller.”
The work at the Truce Center is to help young people develop a positive sense of self through learning African American history and conflict resolution skills.
Lewis explained, “If there’s a kid being taught since he’s little that you don’t like or tolerate certain kinds of people, and that kid grows up to be an adult who acts like that. Is it his fault? Is it his parents’ fault? Is it society’s fault? The only thing we can do is to try and educate each other about our pasts, and to try and develop empathy for what we’ve been through.”
He continued, “You can feel the energy in the air right now; racism is really coming out of the closet. It’s becoming more blatant than it has ever been before, but we can’t continue to divide ourselves as human beings. We will rebuild our cities. I guess we’ll see if the change comes then. We see what this divide has done to us.
Lewis concluded, “It’s critically important for white people to open their mouths and say when things are wrong and not fair, to stop keeping a closed mouth to the racial injustices happening around them. Somehow or other, we’re all going to have to come together.”

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Children & Family Circle 25

Through East African eyes

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Unrest painful reminder of violence immigrants left behind

Youth & Family Circle Eexecutive Director Mahmud Kanyare helps during a food give-away for hundreds of East African families at the Al-Ihsan Islamic Center in Frogtown on June 8, 2020. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd is unlike anything most Twin Cities residents have experienced or imagined. For the East African community that has made Minnesota their home however, it is all too familiar for those of a certain age.
Mahmud Kanyare lives in the Midway neighborhood and has run a program called Youth & Family Circle since 2012. He said, “We serve East African families across the metro area. Many of them are under-resourced, vulnerable, and tend to ‘fall through the cracks’ for a number of reasons.”
The clients he sees are breaking under the combined stress of the pandemic and the recent unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Kanyare said, “Our organization is one of the few in Ramsey County that is fighting for culturally appropriate resources for the families we serve.”
Ramsey County is home to a large East African community. According to Kanyare, the key components his organization is addressing right now are food insecurity, coping with trauma, and addressing racial equity through collaborative efforts.
The majority of East African people are Muslim, and most of the food they eat is certified halal. Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. They cannot eat pork, any food product to which gelatin has been added (because it often contains pork), and certain cuts of other meats. This can make it difficult to receive culturally appropriate food assistance.
In East African families with male heads-of-household in their 50s and 60s, the men tend to be the wage earners and they often have limited English skills. Kanyare said, “Many of these men lost their jobs when the pandemic began – and most were not successful in applying for unemployment benefits. Youth & Family Circle is partnering with an organization called The Food Group this week to make culturally appropriate groceries available to an estimated 500 East African families. This will help in the short-term. Drivers are needed on an ongoing basis to help bring food to families who don’t have transportation.

(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Large numbers of Somalians began arriving in Minnesota in the 1990s, fleeing the violence of the Civil War in their country. Kanyare said, “During the Civil War, no matter where you lived in Somalia there was unrest. His own family fled from Somalia to Pakistan in 1995, where they waited five years before being admitted to the U.S.
Many East African community members are experiencing trauma from being exposed to the fires, looting, and civil unrest following George Floyd’s death on May 25. It is a painful reminder of the violence they tried to leave behind.
Youth and Family Circle is scrambling to set up an online education forum that can help address the fear and frustration people are feeling. Kanyare and his staff will eventually each take a group of 20 families and work with them online throughout the week: moms, dads, and kids all together.
He said, “We hope to offer them a calm, peaceful conversation – but there are technical hurdles to overcome, as many of our East African families don’t have access to computers or internet service. It is a work in progress.”
The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, and contains a passage that rings true to these times: “Whoever kills one human being innocently, it is as if he has killed all of humanity.”
Through East African eyes, there is deep solidarity with African Americans in this struggle and there is anger. Kanyare said, “We have seen throughout the years how African Americans have been shot or abused by some members of the police. When is it going to stop? One can only be patient for so long.”

(Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

For more information about Youth & Family Circle or to make a donation of time or money, visit www.yfcmn.org.
* Editor’s note: Check our web site for articles in this series published between editions of the newspaper at www.monitorsaintpaul.com, tagged Through Their Eyes. The series focuses on letting people tell their stories as it relates to the uprising following George Floyd’s death.

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Web_Protest_Midway_BigTop_SportsDome_IMG_3680b

Over 170 businesses damaged in Midway

Posted on 09 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

People step up to help, city council members talk about needs for honest dialogue

Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze on Thursday, May 28, and the next day staff from Restoration Professionals was on site to board up the building. Firefighters were still working on DTLR Sports Dome the next day across the street. Businesses damaged there include Midway Tobacco, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

By JANE McCLURE
Clean up and recovery efforts continue throughout St. Paul after the vandalism, looting and arsons that began May 28. Several area district councils, business associations and community groups organized clean-up groups and were out sweeping up glass and picking up debris May 29 in Midway and Frogtown.
The morning of May 29, hundreds of volunteers helped clean and board businesses. Hamline Midway Coalition, Frogtown Neighborhood Association and Union Park District Council worked (UPDC) to help organize the groups.
Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council (UPDC) have expressed gratitude for the help rendered. Both district councils have not only helped on the ground in many ways. They also have had to sort through rumors and real situations of possible illegal activities in the neighborhoods.
“There’s been a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” UPDC Board President Henry Parker said. Volunteers have worked to clean up and board up businesses, collect and distribute food, and continue to help affected businesses and residents. UPDC volunteers alone helped board up 10 businesses. Others have helped at food distribution points at Lexington Parkway and Central Avenue, University and Fairview, Celtic Junction and at Bethlehem Lutheran Church-in-the-Midway. The church has become a major food hub.
Both Merriam Park, Frogtown and Hamline-Midway Facebook pages set up regular neighborhood watches during and after the nights of violence, to keep each other informed and report activity. Some volunteers walked neighborhood streets in violation of the state-imposed curfews and county state of emergency. Others kept watch from their yards and porches.
Elected officials have been out helping, and are appreciative of the volunteer efforts to help the community. “It’s been an extraordinary, extraordinary week in many ways,” said St. Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen. City council members have not only been out observing damage and helping with clean-up, they are also looking at the need for an upcoming policy session on steps St. Paul and its Police Department can take to prevent tragedies tied to police brutality. Brendmoen said there is a need for an honest dialogue to continue making changes.
University Avenue businesses sustained the heaviest damage in terms of looting and fires. Two local businesses, Lloyd’s Pharmacy/Menopause Center and Bole Ethiopian restaurant, were lost to fires. Both business were the focus of separate, successful GoFundMe campaigns and plan to rebuild or relocate in the area. Lloyd’s, which is serving customers through its sister pharmacy Setzer’s in Roseville, is planning to open a small interim location in Midway. (See related story beginning on front page.)
Midway Center was hit very hard with looting and then fires. Foot Locker was looted and set ablaze. Adjacent businesses were damaged including Great Clips, Rainbow clothing shop, GameStop Midway, To New York Midway and Peking Garden. Big Top Liquor, in the former Midway Perkins, was looted and set ablaze.
Across the street, businesses damaged include Midway Tobacco, DTLR Sports Dome, Boost Mobile, Maxx It Pawn, Culver’s and neighboring businesses. The eastern half of the Maxx It Pawn-Sports Dome group of businesses was leveled after looting, vandalism and fire. But crews were inside the western half of the structure making repairs the first week of June.

CVS at University and Snelling was looted and vandalized, as were businesses to the east including Ax-Man Surplus, JJ Fish and Chicken, and Metro Sound and Lighting. Metro Sound and Lighting was hit very hard. “We were broken into last night and majorly looted and vandalized,” the business owner stated in a Facebook post. “They tried breaking a front window, and when that didn’t work, they went around to the back of the building, gaining access by virtually destroying a back door. Recession, light rail construction in front of our building, pandemic….and now this.”
At Midway Marketplace, businesses were looted and fires set. Cub, Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx and the Healtheast Clinic were hit hard. The strip mall along University at Hamline had a fire set at the UPS store and businesses including Discount Tire were vandalized and looted. LeeAnn Chin restaurant sustained heavy damage.
Furniture Barn was set on fire and looted.
Midway SuperTarget was looted and vandalized, as were the nearby shops in the building at Hamline and University – Verizon, Noodles and Company, and the Vitamin Shop. The closed BP station at Hamline and University was vandalized.
Stores and restaurants on the first floor of the PPL Building at Hamline and University sustained damage. The building housing Bole Ethiopian restaurant, NAPA Auto Parts and Jackson Hewitt at University and Syndicate was destroyed by fire.
Goodwill at Griggs and Syndicate was vandalized and a dumpster set on fire.
Enterprise’s University Ave. vehicle rental business was damaged by fire. Anaya Dance Theater was vandalized and a wig shop in the former Arnellia’s nightclub was looted and set ablaze.
Office buildings at University and Syndicate were vandalized.
ALDI and Gordon Parks School were vandalized, with a fire set inside of Gordon Parks. Businesses at Lexington and University were damaged including UnBank, White Castle and TCF Bank. O’Reilly Auto Parts was vandalized and set on fire.
Many convenience stores including Speedway and Holiday Station stores were damaged throughout the area including stores on Snelling, University and Lexington. A fire was set at the Speedway at University and Chatsworth.
Many liquor stores around the city were looted and/or vandalized including Snelling Avenue Fine Wines and Liquors.
A few stores have reported break-ins and attempted break-ins during the first week of June.
Overnight May 28-29, the St Paul Fire Department responded to 295 calls for service, 169 of those calls were EMS calls for service and 126 were fire calls. The fire department deployed almost 200 of its own firefighters and had mutual aid from Roseville, Roseville, Maplewood, Little Canada, Lake Johana, North St. Paul, Dakota County Washington County, South Metro, Woodbury and MAC Fire.
Of the 126 fire calls, 55 were actual working fires primarily to commercial properties.
“I want to thank the women and men of our department for the incredible work they performed. Our firefighters responded in challenging conditions which included them having rocks, bricks, and bottles thrown at them. They do this work to serve the residents and visitors of St. Paul and to ensure that every person is cared for and safe,” said Chief Butch Inks.

Volunteers pass out water to those cleaning up and boarding windows on Friday, May 29. “There’s a lot of ways that people have stepped up to help,” observed UPDC President Henry Parker. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

DONATION SITES

• Midway Chamber of Commerce – We Love the Midway: http://www.midwaychamber.com/we-love-midway

• Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: https://midwayunited.org/

• Bole Ethiopian: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rebuilding-bole-ethiopian-cuisine

• Lloyd’s Pharmacy: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lloyd039s-pharmacy-rebuilding-fund-st-paul-riots

FREE LEGAL CLINICS

A series of rapidly organized free legal clinics for individuals, businesses and families impacted by the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd began June 6. The clinics aim to provide safe, confidential and free legal advice, resources and forms for anyone who needs assistance in the community.

Running every weekend while there are those in need, the clinics are organized by the Community Law Collective, a coalition of Twin Cities law firms and Zeus Jones, which will host the first three clinics at 2429 Nicollet Ave S., Minneapolis. Future clinics may be held in the Midway. More information at https://tinyurl.com/FreeLegalClinic.

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2019 Midway Chamber Directory

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