A Cedar-Riverside pawnshop was engulfed in flames early Friday morning, while nearby businesses were boarded up during the day in anticipation of another night of protests.
Firefighters worked to control a fire at MaX It PAWN, a pawnshop located on Cedar Avenue, according to the Star Tribune. The shop is the first in the University area to have significant fire damage from multiple nights of protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, and specifically officer Derek Chauvin.
Many businesses in the neighborhood have been boarding up their windows and doors since Thursday in preparation for potential looting or rioting. Protests in South Minneapolis started peacefully but escalated to property damage in the early hours Wednesday morning.
The damage to Minneapolis businesses has sparked an online debate, however. Some say that the property damage is not comparable to the loss of Black lives and is needed for change, while others say the rioting is unnecessary.
Cedar-Riverside is the southernmost University-area neighborhood, making it closer to where the first protests began. The area is home to many minority-owned businesses.
Seward Café’s co-owner Claire King said neighbors offered to board up the cafe for free, as the cafe is located a few blocks from the scorched pawnshop. King said it looked like the Holiday Station store across the street was looted the night before, but she was not overly worried.
Jay Mei, owner of the Music Box Karaoke and Sushi next door to the cafe, said he was not too concerned either. While other businesses in the area have boarded up, Mei has decided not to.
“I think it should be okay around there,” he said.
An employee at Cedar-Riverside's Wadajir Grocery and Halal Meat, Ali Ali, said the store has boarded up their business but is still worried about what may happen to the property tonight. As of 4 p.m., the store was doing well.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ali said.
Crews from the Minneapolis Fire Department are continuing to respond and extinguish fires in the city, according to a Friday evening press release. The crews had responded to multiple fire events Thursday night, including at least 19 structure fires. The cause of the fires is intentional, it said.