Cup Foods Sues Minneapolis For Lost Business Related to George Floyd's Killing
Photo by Priscilla Gyamfi / Unsplash

Cup Foods Sues Minneapolis For Lost Business Related to George Floyd's Killing

The city is accused of not properly policing the area, which has affected revenue.

I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, a little more than three blocks from where Cup Foods now stands on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. For five years, I took the city bus to my school across town (Grades 7–12). I mostly took the 9B, which came nearest to my home at 42nd and 4th Avenue. Sometimes, I took the #5 bus and got off at 42nd and Chicago. The stops were equidistant from my house, but I usually had more friends on the 9B. If no friends were with me, whichever came first to my downtown transfer point.

Where Cup Foods is now, there used to be a drugstore. Other stores were closer to my home: a Red Owl grocery store and a corner store on 41st and Chicago. Back then, you couldn’t fill a prescription at the grocery store but had to go to the drugstore. A kid on a bike could pick up a prescription or buy cigarettes with a note, so I got sent to that drugstore sometimes. I also went on my own occasionally because they had toys.

At some point, after I moved away, the drugstore closed and ultimately became Cup Foods. It may have been some other things in between. On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old George Floyd entered Cup Foods and attempted to pass a $20 bill deemed counterfeit. The cashier followed company policy and called the police. As you probably know, Floyd was arrested near the scene and murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin and two other officers. There were protests worldwide, but especially at 38th and Chicago, which lasted several days, closing the intersection to thru traffic.

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Ultimately, the protests died down, and the intersection reopened, with barriers reducing automobile traffic on Chicago Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets. The #5 bus was rerouted and didn’t go through the area now known as George Floyd Square or, according to some signs, “The Free State of George Floyd.”

Photo by William Spivey

A little more than three years later, I was back in Minneapolis for a high school reunion and made it a point to visit the intersection and see the site of Floyd’s death for myself. The area had become an attraction, and people were still leaving flowers, some purchased from nearby street vendors. I parked my rental car and joined several pedestrians with cameras and phones, taking pictures of the area.

Photo by William Spivey

Every business or residence had some mural or photo commemorating George Floyd’s death. Chicago Avenue between 38th and 39th had the names written on the street of people who had died as a result of police violence. I recognized most of them, but it’s so hard to keep up.

Photo by William Spivey

The Free State of George Floyd had become a Minneapolis attraction. Foot traffic was greater than I remember when I used to pass by. Even in Minnesota, it gets hot in July, so I stopped at Cup Foods for a soda and ice cream. There were several customers, but it wasn’t crowded. When I entered, I couldn’t help but notice the large sign indicating the store was under “new management,” an assurance to the public that something had changed since they turned in George Floyd, though ownership remained the same.

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Cup Foods and several local businesses have filed a lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and Mayor Jacob Frey, accusing them of not properly policing the area, which has affected business. The Minneapolis Police Department was not named in the lawsuit, though they are accused of not showing up except under the most dire circumstances.

The City had previously provided businesses $1.5 million in forgivable loans to affected companies. A statement from the Mayor’s office addressed the situation.

“When we finally did open the street, the city did so in a planned way where no one was hurt and the area remained safe for residents,”

This is an era when people sue about anything and sometimes win. There may be circumstances of which I’m unaware that might justify an award. I’d rather they got nothing, but the courts will sort it out. The intersection of 38th and Chicago has a gas station that was doing good business the day I was there. I’m hoping there won’t be cause for other memorials anytime soon.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.