The owners of a popular Minneapolis restaurant are suing the city and Mayor Jacob Frey over their response to riots triggered by the death of George Floyd, after their restaurant was burnt down.
Kacey White and Charles Stotts, owners of the Town Talk Diner and Gastropub, claimed that Frey and other city leaders did not react adequately to protect business owners and residents from looting and damage in the riots.
“Mayor Frey and the city did not respond to the severity of the unrest and the danger to Minnesotans and did not adhere to guidelines for confronting and combating rioters,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of Mayor Frey’s failure and failed leadership of the city, Kacey and Charles suffered more than $4,500,000 in damage,” it adds, according to local media outlet the Daily Minneapolis News.
The diner was looted and vandalized for the first time on the night of May 27, after rioters ignored authorities’ request to leave the area. They vandalized Lake Street, which is the major business street in the area, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs said they found their restaurant “far worse than they could have imagined, with broken windows and burnt interiors. They climbed into the restaurant to see more [and] prevent damage” on May 28.
“Mayor Frey failed to acknowledge the gravity of the situation or fight the lawlessness,” the lawsuit states. “Mayor Frey made the decision [on May 29] to evacuate the Third Ward, remove police officers from the neighborhood, and leave Lake Street citizens to defend themselves and their property.”
A few hours after police left their precinct, the “historic building” that the diner was in was burnt to the ground, as were many stores in the area.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Hennepin District Court.
The City of Minneapolis released a statement from City Attorney Jim Rowader on Wednesday, refuting the allegations.
Rowader said that Frey took quick and decisive action, requesting support from the Minnesota National Guard immediately upon the police chief’s request to do so, and as soon as there was any discernible risk of civil unrest and damage to businesses.
“Likewise, that same evening the Minneapolis Police Department submitted a detailed request outlining scope of the need and a mission plan for the additional support,” Rowader said. “The city has provided plaintiffs with these documents, and we are hopeful that they will amend their complaint given this clear and documented evidence.”