My Minneapolis neighborhood is under siege. Here’s how I’m preparing, now

I live in the city of Minneapolis. Unlike many of my colleagues at The Prepared, who’ve left the city for the country, I love living in a city. But the past week in Minneapolis has been scary. Last Monday, George Floyd, a member of my community, was killed by police outside the Cup Foods convenience store. Floyd was not the first black man to be killed at the hands of police in Minneapolis. When I first moved here, in 2016, Philando Castile had just been killed. My city has been in a state of grief and anger for the past week, but those emotions have been simmering for years. For the first time this week, I have seen my city boarded up. I heard helicopters and drones over my head all night long. When I walked my dog, I had to pick her up to avoid glass. On Friday night, my post office went up in flames. On Saturday, the National Guard descended and shot paint canisters at folks on their front porches just a few blocks away from me.

(I live in the 5th Precinct.)   I joined The Prepared back in March, but I’m new to the preparedness community and have spent the past few months learning on the job. During a lesson on modern prepping, our Editor-in-Chief asked me if I had reserves of water in my home. I told him I had a few boxes of La Croix. Last night, as I talked to friends who were filling buckets with water in anticipation of fires in our neighborhood, I felt silly. I was unprepared. Here are three things I wish I’d gotten together before all the protests broke out this week.

1. Supplies for going outside

In case you’ve missed it, we’re also in a pandemic! I’ve wanted to go out and grieve with my community, but I also know that putting my body close to other bodies could put others—and myself—at great risk. When I saw this tweet the other day, I realized how unprepared I was:

If I’d had a gas mask, a good first aid kit, a ham radio, wet wipes, a good spray bottle, and a multi-tool, I would have been able to go out and help my community while keeping myself and others safe. More: 

2. Alternate sources of news / DIY research

On Saturday morning, we woke up to the news from Governor Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter that most of the protests on Friday were led by ‘outside agitators.’ But that didn’t ring true to what we’d seen and heard from our friends on the ground Friday night. So my boyfriend pulled up the publicly available Jail Roster for Hennepin County. He counted who’d been arrested from out of state and who’d been arrested from Minnesota. The numbers just didn’t match what we were hearing from our state and local officials. Still, as we watched the ‘outside agitator’ news spread to our families out of state, I realized how much of the news I consume about unrest in other cities could be incorrect. I started to understand why there’s so little trust in the media, and why it’s important to fact check. Eventually, my local news station, KARE 11, corrected the record.

To be clear, I do believe that there are people in my city who have come to take our community apart. But I also know that there are attempts to minimize the very real anger many in my community feel right now and blame that anger on ‘outside agitators’ instead.

3. Food to spread around

Needless to say, I donated those boxes of La Croix to neighborhoods in need on Saturday morning, along with most of my stocked up groceries. (Our community has set up many contactless drop sites, so I wore a mask, and volunteers took the donations out of the trunk of my car.) Many grocery stores have burned down or been looted in vulnerable communities around the Twin Cities. Now, families that were already suffering from the COVID-19 financial downturn can’t get food. As I looked at more calls for donations this morning, I was reminded of the article we at The Prepared published a month ago: Prepping is just “flattening the curve” for everything from food to electricity. I wished I had more slack in my own food stores so I could donate to those in my community who need food. I also wish I’d had extra first aid kits and water to donate to medics and others working to rebuild. As unrest spreads around the country, I hope those who have extra resources will move them around. When the next wave comes to Minneapolis, I will be ready to do that, too.


  • 7 Comments

    • Tony

      Thanks for a viewpoint that can only come from a resident. Stay safe.

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    • Coaster

      Even if you had everything on the list entering the melee of a riot isn’t a wise move. The prudent thing is to have enough supplies to lock down indoors until the unrest passes. Having a plan and a place to leave to if things get worse is the backup to that.

      If you believe in the cause or your duty as a journalist to wade in that is your decision. The article should reflect those decisions though.

      The people who need help during the riots almost certainly have chosen to be there, other than business owners trying to save their livelihoods. The first rule of first aid is to make sure the scene is safe before entering, otherwise you may just be an additional victim. Going into the riots to help is putting yourself at great risk to help others who chose to be in harm’s way.

      After the riots helping with donations and cleanup are a wonderful thing. Just be sure to assess the scene and be ready to leave at the first hint of conflict.

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      • Kelsey DonkContributor Coaster

        Thanks so much for your comment! I’m referring here to the peaceful protests, vigils, and memorials that have been happening every day in my city.

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      • Coaster Coaster

        I haven’t been closely following what is happening in Minneapolis, just our local disturbances. The line here between peaceful protest and tear gas / rubber bullets / flash bangs is one water bottle. Even politicians have been pepper sprayed.

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      • Kelsey DonkContributor Coaster

        Stay safe! It’s confusing and scary out there! Thanks so much for reading.

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    • SeaBee

      Great, thoughtful piece, Kelsey. Thank you. I lived in Minneapolis for high school and attended the U of M for undergrad; lots of family still live in and around the Cities. I ran a homework help center across the street from the Target on Lake Street over twenty years, and had hoped to return for good in 2007, but recession. I’ve got a lot of love for the Powderhorn neighborhood and the vibrant community therein. Thanks for reminding us that prepping is not just personal, but also local. Take care.

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    • mopdx

      Thank you for sharing your insightful story, Kelsey. The weekend’s events here in Portland, Oregon, has made me think about how I may step up my preparations–in a sense, this weekend was a “dry run” for what I am afraid may happen in early November after the elections (no matter what the result is).

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