Vice President Mike Pence and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump visited a Black-owned Minneapolis salon destroyed by rioters in May during their Thursday trip to Minnesota.
The purpose of the trip was to help promote President Trump’s pro-law-and-order message and job creation in the state, which has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Associated Press.
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The capital has also faced immense damage following riots that occurred after George Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after a White police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, as seen in moments captured on video footage.
“Met Flora at her 35-year-old small business, Flora’s Hair Design, an American dream that was burnt to the ground,” the first daughter wrote in an Instagram post describing her visit to the salon. “We are with you and the people of Minneapolis. God Bless.”
Flora’s Hair Design was “burned to the ground” on May 29 amid unrest in the city, according to a GoFundMe page shared on the salon’s Facebook page; the salon has reached $174,870 in donations as of Friday.
“Flora’s Hair Design has been a pillar on Broadway Avenue where men, women and children came to get beautified and had history lessons from elders in the community,” the GoFundMe page reads. “Flora has exhausted all of her energy and savings in building the community, creating jobs for entrepreneurs and aiding in generational wealth.”
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In a June 4 interview with business news website Bizwomen, Flora’s Hair Design owner Flora Westbrook expressed sympathy for Floyd but said the damage to her business is “beyond that.”
“I understand that they [were] protesting about Mr. Floyd, and my sympathy goes to him,” Westbrook told the outlet. “But this is beyond that. Why would you come and do this to us? Why would you take our business away like this?”
She added that her salon was her “life” and “everything” to her.
“If they only knew my story, they wouldn’t have done what they did,” Westbrook told the outlet. ” … They don’t know the things I endured, the things I went through to try and keep my business. It wasn’t easy for a black-owned business to stay there that many years, and to survive.”
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Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz expects riot-related damage costs for approximately 1,500 businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul will exceed $500 million. Damage to a Minneapolis police precinct will cost the city about $10 million to rebuild, officials said in July.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on May 27 ordered the city’s Third Precinct to evacuate, saying, “The symbolism of the building cannot outweigh the importance of life, our officers or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone. And we will continue to patrol the Third Precinct.”
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Walz deployed the Minnesota National Guard on May 30 after Floyd’s death and on Aug. 27 amid continued unrest in the city.
The vice president and first daughter hosted a listening session with a “Cops for Trump” group and Minneapolis residents who say “crime and violent extremism” has “negatively impacted” the president’s reelection campaign, AP reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.