After slamming President Donald Trump’s critical response to the rioting and looting that followed the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) now finds himself in the awkward position of having to ask the federal government for help, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
“With at least $55 million in estimated damage and far more to come, Minneapolis will need state and federal aid as it attempts to rebuild hundreds of structures after the riots following George Floyd’s death,” Frey said in a recent interview, according to the Star Tribune.
Staggering cost emerges
The damage that rioters and looters have caused in Minnesota is still being tallied, but it is already clear that the devastation is staggering.
According to the latest numbers from the Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development Department, at least 220 buildings have been damaged, and necessary repairs and reconstruction would like cost an estimated $55 million.
But city officials expect these numbers to rise significantly as the full scope of the damage is assessed. Mayor Frey has said that he expects the full cost to be in the “tens, if not hundreds of millions.”
Minneapolis was already in a bad situation financially from coronavirus-related lockdowns, which Frey noted in the interview.
“We will do everything we can as we shift to recovery mode,” Frey told the Star-Tribune. “We’re recovering from crises sandwiched on top of each other, from COVID-19 to the police killing and then the looting which took place afterward.”
Indeed, the Star-Tribune reports that, prior to the riots, city officials were trying to figure out how $165 million could be cut from the city’s budget to make up for coronavirus losses.
“This will be a budget crunch,” Frey said at the time. “To say otherwise would be dishonest, but we are committed to the city. We have a committed team, and I know between our city enterprise and the strength of our communities, we’re going to get through this.”
Hat in hand
This explains why Frey is now in the position of having to ask for federal help. The question now centers around how President Trump will respond.
It certainly will not help that Frey blasted Trump’s reaction to his handling of the riots, tweeting, “Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes, but you better be damned sure that we’re going to get through this.”
But even if Frey had not made that incendiary comment, it is still unclear whether the federal government would even be willing to offer Minneapolis a bailout. As the Star-Tribune notes, “in the past, neither the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) nor Congress has consistently sent federal funding to cities ravaged by riots.”