All across St. Paul, corner mailboxes disappeared on Monday.
“A big flatbed truck loaded with mailboxes,” one neighbor told me. They had a mailbox on the corner in front of their house. I had walked over yesterday to mail a letter, not long after the mailbox disappeared.
Strange, I thought, but despite my news addiction, I had not heard anything about mailboxes being removed. Maybe this one was just going to be replaced. I was out for a walk anyway, so I headed over the Lake Street bridge, expecting to encounter a mailbox on some corner in Minneapolis.
Well, I thought, maybe I am mistaken. Maybe Lake Street never had mailboxes.
Back in St. Paul, letters still in hand, I checked other corners where I had mailed letters in the past. Not today.
This morning, I confirmed with a postal employee at a still-open post office. Yes, the mailboxes had been picked up. It was a safety measure, “because of the protests and riots.” Some day they would come back. Probably.
It’s a small story, nothing to compare with FBI warnings about a planned attack on the state capitol, with the sight of boarded up stores all along University Avenue and in Midway shopping center, and the fear and grief that has permeated our communities since the police killing of George Floyd.
I know protesters. But for our coronavirus-imposed isolation, I would be out there with them, as I was for years, decades, half a century and more.
Removing the mailboxes is not about protesters. It is about those other, more sinister forces spreading lies on social media, attacking Gandhi Mahal and Migizi Communications and Juxtaposition Arts, trying to destroy our trust in one another, and the very community we live in.
We are better than this. We are still a community. We are the protesters against police violence and racism, we are the watchers in the night guarding our neighborhoods, we are the clean-up crews, the sandwich makers, the people sending money to rebuild, the great-grandmothers praying for us all.
We are community. We will continue to fight against racism and injustice, and we will work to rebuild not what was before, but a better, stronger, more just Minnesota.
x x x x x
If you want to help, here are some places to begin—not a complete or comprehensive list, but a beginning.
To support change:
- The Black Visions Collective Movement and Legal Fund, a Black, trans and queer-led organization, is helping lead the protests and advocating to defund the police in Minnesota. Donate here.
- Northstar Health Collective, a mutual aid group of organizers and street medics, is providing healthcare and other resources to activists and organizers on the ground. Donate here.
- Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en La Lucha, a Minneapolis worker’s center, is taking donations of food and money to support organizers and helping pressure local government. Donate here.
- Reclaim the Block, a Minnesota org that lobbies for defunding the police and re-routing funds to affordable housing, health, violence prevention, civil right and renter protections. Donate here.
- The Twin Cities Recovery Project has been holding grief and trauma groups which are peer run and connected to licensed therapists. To help fundraise for community support, donate here.
To give material aid to rebuild/support communities:
- The Lake Street Council is collecting donations to support Minneapolis small businesses and nonprofits to rebuild.
- Neighbors United Funding Collaborative is raising money to help St. Paul businesses rebuild.
- Support the Cities lists places to volunteer and donate in Minneapolis.
- And another good list from KSTP here.