Let me tell you about where I live…
I live in Saint Paul now. We jokingly refer to this as “Saint Small”. Despite its status as a medium-sized metropolitan city, it’s the sort of place where if I don’t know you, I know your people. I know people that know you. If I ask you who your people are, your friends and neighbors, where you’ve lived or worked, and I don’t know anyone you mention, you’re not from here.
Minneapolis, though larger and even more metropolitan, is not all that different. Especially in the neighborhoods. I lived in South Mineapolis from age 3-10 and then again from age 16-18. The spot where George Floyd died? My Grandmother’s house was a block away. The Cup Food grocery he died in front of used to be a pharmacy. I got ice cream from the soda fountain there. As a kid, I never lived anywhere more than two miles from that spot. If you lived or worked in South Minneapolis, we knew you. We knew your people. We knew who you churched with or who you drank with. It was that way then and it is that way now.
So, when we say that much of the chaos that is growing out of otherwise peaceful (sure, anger filled, wrenching, screaming, but non-violent) protests is from outside of the community, we know. When we say we are seeing cars we don’t recognize with out of state plates or, more tellingly, no plates at all, we know. When we say we don’t know the people or their people, we know. When we see businesses vandalized or burning that we know we would never harm, we know.
We don’t know you and we don’t know your people.