The murder of George Floyd

As rebuilding begins, these volunteers are making sure businesses get the tools they need

Sam Cook and Erik Hamline, owners of a plant shop, stand with friends.
Sam Cook and Erik Hamline, owners of plant shop Mother Co., stand with friends helping them collect and distribute tools and construction materials for businesses outside the Meteor Bar in north Minneapolis. The tools and materials will be distributed to businesses in north and south Minneapolis damaged by fires that grew out of some protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
Alex Baumhardt | MPR News

Fires and vandalism after the killing of George Floyd have left large swaths of Minneapolis in need of repair. While the cleanup, in many cases, began hours after riots subsided, the harder work of rebuilding is just gearing up.

To help meet the challenge, a hardware store has sprung up in the parking lot of Meteor Bar on North Second Street. Meteor owner Elliot Manthey teamed up with Erik Hamline and Sam Cook, husband-wife owners of Mother Co. Plants down the road, to collect and distribute tools that businesses in north and south Minneapolis need to rebuild.

Hamline said the idea came together in just the last couple days.

“We thought it might be smart just to see what we could do to collect power tools, fasteners, materials, extension cords, safety lights, work lights, safety equipment, tokens, etc. Just to help people have what they need to get from point A to point B, before contractors and rebuild efforts can actually formulate,” he said.

In addition to collecting materials, they’re compiling a list of people in construction and trades who can offer their services to businesses for free, or help guide them through the process of assessing damage and beginning to rebuild.

“Like you know, if you have issues with your building or house and you don't know where to start, you can call somebody they can show up and just point you in the right direction or give you assurances would let you know what to be expecting coming up and taking it from there just so it's not cold calling” he said. “I feel a lot of people just don't know where to start, right now.”

On Wednesday morning, folks who had mostly found out about the collection point at Meteor Bar through Instagram came by to drop off supplies. Among them was Reade Gosen of south Minneapolis tattoo shop Sea Wolf, who rattled off a list of materials.

”We have two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, 5 gallon buckets, a couple of drills, a couple of skills, saws and hammers and pencils and levels,” he said.

Two people drop off items at a parking lot in north Minneapolis.
Jason Walstrom and Reade Gosen drop off wood, buckets, drills, saws and hammers at the parking lot of Meteor Bar in north Minneapolis.
Alex Baumhardt | MPR News

Gosen said he’s seen a lot of donation sites for food and household goods, but fewer for the raw materials businesses need to clean up and rebuild with.

“A lot of the drop-off stuff has been, you know, for medical supplies and food and stuff like that. So, it's kind of felt like a different way to help out,” he said. “And a lot of the food places are, you know, totally chock full and they actually need people to help sort it.”

Nils Espe and his wife Natalie Espe, who came from south Minneapolis, said their own DIY approach to building might not be very helpful to local businesses, but the tools they dropped off can be.

“We just felt like we had to do something, you know, to help out and, you know, we're not construction contractor tradesmen, but if we can give them the supplies they need to do the work, that's the little bit we can do,” Nils Espe said.

Hamline, Cook and Manthey will be collecting tools and other building materials, as well as gift cards to hardware stores, at the Meteor Bar through Thursday evening. People who need supplies can either pick them at Meteor Bar Thursday or Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or they can arrange for tools to be dropped off where needed.

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