Since the 1970s, the city’s politics have trended increasingly progressive. Its last Republican city council member retired in 1997.
The last time that Minneapolis burned like this was July 1967. For three nights, dozens of buildings and businesses along Plymouth Avenue, a commercial strip on the city’s predominantly African-American North Side, were vandalized, looted and torched. Accounts differ as to what sparked the violence then. But there was no doubt about the source of the tinder. Black residents of Minneapolis had faced decades of discriminatory policing, racist housing policies and difficult employment conditions. Only the arrival of 600 National Guard troops stopped the violence.
Fifty-three years later, the death of George Floyd and the riotous aftermath is a brutal reminder to Minneapolis that it was only quelled, never extinguished.
Even in 2020, amid the new housing blocks and shops, there remain many empty lots where commercial buildings and residences once stood. Out front of the headquarters of Urban League Twin Cities, an education and advocacy organization, two cars that had been in a catastrophic crash, sat vacant on the sidewalk, their taillights still blinking, their drivers absent. The bumper of one was perched on the steps of the building and a couple of bystanders paused to stare. But the only police car in sight didn’t even tap its brakes as it drove by, en route to the notorious 4th precinct headquarters a block-and-a-half away.