Nine artisan-etched windows at the Cesar Pelli-designed Central Library in downtown Minneapolis rank among the damage done to Hennepin County properties in last week’s riots, the County Board learned at a meeting Tuesday.
Margo Geffen, director of property services for the county, projected grim images of the destruction inflicted on buildings in the county’s urban core, including extensive vandalism to structures on E. Lake Street in south Minneapolis and W. Broadway on the North Side that provide health services.
Hennepin County is working with insurance adjusters but doesn’t yet have a damage estimate for the buildings or a timeline for reopening, Geffen said. The damaged windows at the Central Library likely will be replaced with plain glass until etched ones can be installed.
Among the buildings extensively damaged was Hennepin County Library’s East Lake branch in south Minneapolis, near the heavily damaged Third Police Precinct and a little more than 2 miles from the corner where police officers fatally pinned George Floyd to the street last week.
Geffen displayed two photos showing that locals had posted cardboard over the library’s broken windows and written, “Respect this community-owned library.”
Other damaged buildings provide an array of services to residents and are relatively new as part of the county’s recent move to decentralize outside downtown Minneapolis.
At the county’s South Minneapolis Regional Service Center, at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, every window was broken and the building was flooded with water from fire sprinklers.
On the service center’s ground floor, two private businesses — Briva Health and Seward Pharmacy — were hit. County Administrator David Hough said it’s going to be “very hard” for the businesses to rebuild.
“We’ll do everything we can to help,” he said.
The North Minneapolis Human Services and Public Health Satellite, at 627 W. Broadway, saw significant damage. The county leases space for the satellite office above a Walgreens at Lyndale Avenue and West Broadway.
Most of the looting and destruction occurred Wednesday and Thursday. Since then county officials have worked to shore up and protect existing structures.
Geffen said the county has boarded up 20 buildings on commercial corridors and installed fencing and barricades at other major facilities, including the 24-story Government Center, the Medical Examiner’s Office and HCMC in downtown Minneapolis. Those facilities also are now protected by armed guards.
During the board meeting, Commissioner Angela Conley asked Sheriff David Hutchinson about protesters, including Conley herself, being “shot at” outside Cup Foods while mourning Floyd. Hutchinson told her it’s difficult to pick out the peaceful protesters from the dangerous agitators.
Afterward, Conley criticized the sheriff on social media for offering an “unwanted apology” but “no substantial answers.” She said she wanted to know how he will tell the difference between peaceful protesters and bad actors after the curfew, but got no answer.