A Minneapolis manufacturing facility that was damaged during the riots that plagued the city following the death of George Floyd has vowed to leave the city, as the owner cited his belief that city officials did nothing to protect his employees, The Star Tribune reported. The move is expected to cost the city about 50 jobs.
Kris Wyrobek is the president and owner of 7-Sigma Inc., which has manufactured plastic and metal components for various industries since 1987. The company’s products include medical training mannequins and rollers for high-speed printing presses. On most nights, workers are in the plant until about 11:00 p.m.
On the first night of riots following George Floyd’s death, violent protests broke out around the facility. Wyrobek shut down operations early so that his employees could get home safely.
Two of his employees, a production supervisor and a maintenance worker, live nearby, and when a housing complex next door started burning, Wyrobek was even more concerned.
The business owner says that Minneapolis Fire Department vehicles sat and did nothing as the complex was burning.
“The fire engine was just sitting there, but they wouldn’t do anything,” he said.
Wyrobek has since decided that Minneapolis will no longer be his company’s base of operations.
“They don’t care about my business. They didn’t protect our people. We were all on our own,” he said.
The idea of moving out of Minneapolis had never occurred to the business owner “in my wildest nightmare.” Now, however, he says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that he can rebuild his factory elsewhere, although as of this writing, he has not given any indication as to where that may be.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, for his part, says that the city was “overwhelmed” by the riots.
“This was a Guard-sized crisis and demanded a Guard-sized response. 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,” he said.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz described the city’s response to the riots as an “abject failure.”
Besides 7-Sigma, at least 51 other businesses in the city were completely destroyed in the riots, while another 30 sustained severe damage. Estimates place the cost of rebuilding the city at about $500 million, making the George Floyd riots the second-costliest period of civil unrest in U.S. history. The 1992 riots that followed the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles are the costliest, with an estimated $1.4 billion price tag in 2020 dollars.