Yesterday, demonstrators gathered in Minneapolis (as well as other cities) for the third night in a row to protest the police killing of George Floyd. Some protesters set fire to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct, as well as to other properties including a nearby liquor store and Gandhi Mahal, a restaurant that a Minneapolis Star-Tribune editor calls “beloved.” It was one of several restaurants in its building that, the paper reports, “appear to have been heavily damaged.” But it is owner Ruhel Islam’s words of solidarity that are being shared, and not photos of damage. “Let my building burn, justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail,” he said, according to a Facebook post written by his daughter, Hafsa.
Published on the restaurant’s Facebook page and since widely shared, Hafsa’s post asks people not to worry, and ends the update with a message of support for their neighbors. Hundreds have responded with messages of support and pride, with one person writing “thank you for living your public life with such integrity and continual love for your community.” Many others have shared similar comments about Ruhel, an immigrant from Bahar Mordan, Bangladesh, who has talked about issues of food insecurity.
Ruhel’s words have been shared across social media by everyone from San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho, a former Minneapolis resident, to television host and chef Andrew Zimmern and activist DeRay Mckesson, as a powerful expression of the value of human life over property.