Sadly, what took place at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis was just the latest chapter of a long and tragic national story. The subsequent grief and outrage manifested itself not only in Minneapolis but in cities across our country like Houston, Louisville, and New York City, as well as internationally in London, Paris, Stockholm, Toronto, and more. Minneapolis was simply the latest flashpoint for reacting to societal ills that have yet to be adequately addressed.
Police brutality of black people in America is not new. As far back as 1965, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said in a “Meet the Press” interview that “something must be done to end this kind of unnecessary abuse of police power and what we see as outright police brutality.” National Public Radio (NPR) chronicled a list nearly 100 police-involved deaths of black Americans since the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City, further shedding light on this dark part of American history. And that list was not comprehensive.
My role, as the leader of the organization that is the steward of the destination brand and is responsible for attracting visitors of all types, mandates that I speak up on what has occurred here. The potential visitors we work to attract expect our Meet Minneapolis team to present our city authentically. We did just that in a letter to our partner businesses and our meetings, convention and event customers speaking to the murder of Mr. Floyd. There was an overwhelming empathetic and supportive response from our customers. But candidly, the most common concern and question being raised has been, “What is our community doing to right these wrongs?” We have work to do.
This tragedy is on top of the COVID-19 pandemic that has all but paralyzed our community’s hospitality industry. Many of the workers in our industry are minorities and immigrants who are now unemployed because of the impact of COVID-19. They have been further impacted by the long-term or permanent closures of many businesses, particularly restaurants, that are now damaged or completely destroyed by riots in the week after Mr. Floyd’s murder.
As Meet Minneapolis began the process of grieving for the death of George Floyd, we conducted an organic, full staff, town hall meeting to begin having the hard conversations about racism and to determine a path forward. Every single one of our team members had the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about the murder of George Floyd and its impact on our community. This honest outpouring confirmed to me that our organization is hurting but also is ready to be a part of the solution.
Initially, we are: