Uptown locals share thoughts about protests

Sophia Pellizzer
Sophia Pellizzer

Sebastian Joe’s ice cream shop in Uptown had a window damaged on May 28 and boarded up their Uptown location the next morning. Social media manager Sophia Pellizzer posed with a can of spray paint as their team sprayed messages like “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” on their boarded windows.

“It’s a blank canvas,” she said. “We might as well take the opportunity to stand in solidarity and broadcast messages that we believe in.”

Paul Hagen
Paul Hagen

Paul Hagen, owner of Hagen’s Auto Body off of Lyndale Avenue South, said the anxiety level in his business is very high. With COVID-19, his business has already been put under strain.

“I think there has been so much coverage of the rioting, that we’re not hearing about the protesting and they need to be heard,” he said. “We need to correct this problem. … I think the days of having police officers with a chip on their shoulder are over. We don’t need police officers like that anymore. We need the ones that are going to work with the community and be good people and be one of us.”

Hagen spray-painted this message on his storefront because he said he wanted to remind protesters to remain peaceful.

“I hope that we do something about getting these riots under control so that we can have the protests that we need and the word and get out there and hopefully things will change,” he said.

Marshall Kellian
Marshall Kellian

Marshall Kellian, 15, drove 40 minutes with his father to bike through Uptown with his father to see the city boarded up. Kellian said he thinks the protests have gone “a bit overboard.” 

“It started out peaceful but then kind of broke out into looting,” he said. “What the cop did was totally of hand, but they did arrest him now so it’s looking better.”

Maxwell Villella-Smith
Maxwell Villella-Smith

Maxwell Villella-Smith, age 18, said his father’s store, Venus Unveiled in Uptown, was raided on May 28. The store was broken into and clothing, shoes and other goods were stolen. The family watched at 1 a.m. from their home two and a half hours away as looters came in and their burglary alarm sounded.

Villella-Smith said he walked for three miles down Lyndale East on the day of the robbery and picked up 15 garbage bags full of debris. His father has since boarded up the windows, as have many other stores in the area.

“I’m thinking it’s going to be bad tonight. That’s why we didn’t really pick up too much. We thought, ‘It’s just going to get broken into again even with the board being up. Somehow they’re going to get in.”

Villella-Smith said he understands the protests but doesn’t believe people should generalize about who to blame and knows some people are blaming a majority of cops and white people for the killing of George Floyd. 

“I understand the protests,” he said. “I don’t believe that everyone should be blamed. I know a lot of black people like myself, they’re trying to blame it on all cops and all white people, but not all of them are bad.”