As Minneapolis rioters set buildings ablaze, grocer pleads to save his stores

U.S. 2020/5/31

As Minneapolis rioters set buildings ablaze, grocer pleads to save his stores

By Brendan O´Brien

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - At a little past midnight on Saturday as smoke billowed and flames rose from the tops of a nearby bank and a post office building, Minneapolis grocery store owner Mohammad Abdi knew he had a critical business decision to make.

Either go out into the street and confront the dangerous vandals and looters who were preparing to torch his Tawakal Halal Grocery or standby and watch them destroy his livelihood.

"I told them this is my business, this is my building, please don´t do it," he said late on Saturday morning, pointing to the alcove in the front of his building where footprints remained from the looters, who were armed with accelerant.

"I didn´t yell, I stayed calm. I told them that I didn´t do anything to them. And they left," he added.

The 35-year-old Somali man stayed awake through the night and into the morning to watch over the grocery and A & D Food Market, another grocery he owns across the street in Minneapolis´ Lyndale neighborhood, on the city´s southwest side.

Minneapolis has the largest Somali community in the United States. Abdi said his businesses remained intact thanks to a group of two dozen friends and customers who also stood watch all night and shooed off groups off vandals.

It is a testament, he said, to the tightly knit community of residents from his native east African nation.

"I was really happy with my community in the way it helped me out," he said. "They love me and trust me."

Peaceful protests have unraveled into nightly riots in this Midwestern city following a bystander video on Monday showing a white Minneapolis police officer pinning his knee into the neck of an unarmed black man who later died.

The death of the man, George Floyd, has sparked outrage and violent pr

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