ST. PAUL, Minn. (KELO) — The sound of a backhoe could be heard as Cole Mayer talked from inside his apartment Friday morning in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota.
The backhoe was demolishing the remains of Lloyd’s Pharmacy, which was destroyed hours earlier in a fire during protests over the death of George Floyd who died in Minneapolis police custody on Monday, May 25 . Minneapolis officials announced earlier Friday afternoon that fired city police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and will be charged with murder and manslaughter.
“I’m heartbroken. It’s crazy to think this is happening,” Mayer said of the damage to his St. Paul neighborhood.
Mayer is a graduate of Washington High School and Hamline University. He works for Minnesota United, the professional soccer team based at Allianz Field in St. Paul. His brother is a digital producer for KELOLAND News.
Mayer and his girlfriend, Madeleine Sendek, live in an apartment above a thrift store on Snelling Avenue, across the street from the destroyed pharmacy. They left home Thursday night to stay with a relative to make sure they and their vehicle were safe, he said.
Mayer is heartbroken and he is angry but his anger isn’t directed at the protesters.
The African American community “needs to be heard. I stand with them. This community hasn’t been heard for the last 20 years,” Mayer said of the issue of police brutality against African Americans.
The people he and Sendek saw carrying baseball bats and looting two nearby gas stations weren’t from their community, he said.
People from outside of their community “we’re prepared to take advantage of an opportunity to loot…,” Mayer said.
Still, it was the sight of looters and the sound of breaking glass that prompted Mayer and Sendek to leave their apartment for a family member’s home in Plymouth.
Sendek said they watched a family who lives behind the pharmacy speed away from the neighborhood. That too, was another sign they should leave for the night.
After a sleepless night at Mayer’s uncle’s home, they returned to their neighborhood around 8 a.m. Friday.
They passed burnt out businesses and Allianz Field on their way back. They were still discussing whether to leave the cities for a weekend stay with Mayer’s relatives in Sioux Falls.
Unlike the prior night, they will have time to pack more items.
Mayer was hopeful that as Minneapolis and St. Paul appeared to take two steps backward, the cities could begin to take a step forward. Frustration that appeared this past week in city streets and neighborhoods could lead to resolution on police brutality against African Americans.
If they did choose to leave for Sioux Falls for the weekend, they still had some work from home to do. Sendek had deadlines to meet and Mayer also had work for Minnesota United to finish up.
Outside their apartment, the sound of the backhoe could still be heard in the background as Mayer returned to his day.