A Minneapolis manufacturing company whose plant was set on fire by rioters plans to leave the city, saying that city officials afforded them no assistance in handling the destruction.
“They don’t care about my business,” 7-Sigma Inc.’s president and owner, Kris Wyrobek, told The Star Tribune about Minneapolis public officials. “They didn’t protect our people. We were all on our own.”
The 7-Sigma plant in south Minneapolis, which the company has maintained since 1987, shut down several hours early around 7 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. as a precautionary measure on the first night of rioting. The company manufactures several products, including rollers for high-speed printing presses and medical training mannequins.
When a fire broke out in an apartment complex under construction that was next door to the manufacturing facility, “the fire engine was just sitting there, but they wouldn’t do anything,” Wyrobek said. The apartment complex was leveled by the fire, and several stores across the street including a Target store were looted during the first night of riots.
Mayor Jacob Frey said the city’s fire department was operating at full capacity in response to the riots, which he said required the state’s National Guard to quell the violence. Governor Tim Walz, who excoriated the city’s weak response, called in the state’s National Guard to Minneapolis after the mayor requested it. The Minnesota National Guard said in a statement that “a key objective is to ensure fire departments are able to respond to calls.”
“This was a Guard-sized crisis and demanded a Guard-sized response,” Frey said. “And once we had the full presence of the National Guard — which by the way hasn’t been deployed since World War II — there was a significantly different result.”
The city will lose about 50 jobs when the company skips town, a move that Wyrobek said he had “not in my wildest nightmare” considered before the riots. Now, he is “cautiously optimistic” that he can rebuild his company elsewhere, “but we are certainly not able to do that in Minneapolis.”
Riots broke out in Minneapolis during the last week of May after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, including after Floyd passed out. Rioters set a police precinct ablaze as well as businesses across the city.
Both peaceful protests and riots have occurred in metropolitan areas around the country in response to Floyd’s death and have continued through both of the following weekends.