(The Center Square) – A Minneapolis diner sued the city for not stopping rioters from demolishing its property. The lawsuit is the first since the May riots, which resulted in roughly $500 million in damages to properties located in the Twin Cities.
Kacey White and Charles Stotts, on behalf of Lake Street Town Talk Diner & Gastropub, filed a federal lawsuit arguing Mayor Jacob Frey and the city “stood back and watched as their failure to follow the policies in place destroyed the businesses on Lake Street.”
The lawsuit focuses on the city strategy to abandon the Third Police Precinct, roughly 450 feet from the diner. The lawsuit also alleges failure to activate the National Guard to protect residents’ property sparked escalation that left “the citizens of Lake Street to defend themselves and their property.”
That decision, the lawsuit claims, resulted in up to 26 additional buildings burned.
Rioters attacked the diner multiple times. The building was damaged on May 28, the lawsuit says, but was set ablaze at 3:30 a.m. with no help from local city services or the National Guard.
“[E]xecutive leadership at the local level failed to distinguish between demonstrators and rioters,” the lawsuit reads. “Mayor Frey ultimately failed to provide the guidance Minnesotans expect from their offices.”
City Attorney Jim Rowader argued the lawsuit “completely ignores the facts,” citing Minneapolis and Frey’s communication reported by the Star Tribune.
“[M]ayor Frey took quick and decisive action, requesting the 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 neighborhoods and businesses,” Rowader said in a statement.
“Likewise, that same evening the Minneapolis Police Department submitted a detailed request outlining the 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.”
“The City Attorney’s Office stands ready to vigorously defend this lawsuit.”
The suit seeks $4.5 million, plus interest, attorney fees, and investigation costs.
The lawsuit could set a significant precedent. More than 1,500 Twin Cities businesses were heavily damaged during the May riots.