Little Rock, Ark. – Protests and riots have torn apart the Twin Cities in Minnesota following the death of George Floyd. Each morning after, there are groups of volunteers helping clean up the debris. One Arkansas man is lending a helping hand to those hard hit areas in St. Paul.
Paul Vitale says the damage in Minnesota is hard to see. Buildings are burned and windows are boarded up after protestors took over the streets of the Twin Cities.
“You have entities that have been the foundation of Minneapolis for decades and their businesses not only were looted but their businesses have gone up in flames,” Vitale said.
He is an Arkansas native but for the last two years he’s split time between the two states.
“This is a beautiful, beautiful progressive community and to see the protests and the violence and things literally go up in flames it’s extremely sad,” Vitale said.
He didn’t let that sadness take over, instead he thought ‘what can I do.’
“It’s not that hard to sweep and it’s not that hard to put trash in a bag,” Vitale said.
He’s now driving to some of the hardest hit areas in St. Paul and stepping in to help store owners clean up broken windows and graffiti stained walls.
“It’s a very humbling experience and then your heart goes out to people,” Vitale said.
Even through the hurt and destruction, he says he feels a sense of resilience.
“I was absolutely amazed by those who were just lending a helping hand,” Vitale said.
It’s that gesture Vitale hopes will send another message.
“At the end of the day when we start treating each other as human beings and do it consistently. There’s going to be a good outcome,” Vitale said.
Vitale continues to help as the protests continue. He says this is something he and his wife started doing on their own but there are lots of groups working to organize clean-ups.