On the street: ‘None of these material things amount to a person’s life’

Jessica and Jeff Turner. Photo by Zac Farber

George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer has placed the city’s history of racial inequity and white violence at the forefront of a global protest movement. The Southwest Journal has asked local residents to share their feelings and experiences. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read all of our interviews here.

Jessica and Jeff Turner

Near the 5th Precinct, across the street from a small group lighting the Wells Fargo on fire, Friday, May 29

Jessica Turner: We live in the suburbs, in Champlin. I’m out here supporting. I’m with my people, whatever they want to do, however they want to do it. [An explosion sound.] I’ve got to keep my eye on that! Has any building exploded down here yet? 

Honestly, what I want is accountability. We’ve all seen what happened. I’ve been feeling sadness and frustration. I want police to stop antagonizing peaceful protesters. [Flames leap from the Wells Fargo as cars honk their horns.] If they tried to stop the looting from even this block alone, I think it would be terrible with all the traffic. A lot of people would get run over, a lot of people would really get hurt, no lie. I think they should think about that. 

I get that it’s the building, the looting and all of that. But none of these material things amount to a person’s life. As much as we can tear this down, we’ll build it back up. We’re the ones who built it any goddamn way. You think it’s the corporations and the big bosses that sit up there building this? No. It’s people like us who build it, who put in the work. We are going to come together as a community and we will rebuild our city — faster than you think. And Cub Foods, if they don’t want to come back, we’ll just start a new chain. There’s nothing we can’t do. If we have this same energy and same support building it back up, we’ll be all right.

Jeff Turner: It’s all of us, regardless of how they look at it. We paid for it. You’ve got to call it for what it is.

I grew up in this neighborhood. I lived at 3130 Pillsbury. I grew up around here as a teenager. I went to Lyndale Elementary, not even half a mile away. I grew up around the gangs that were in this neighborhood, and the 3rd Precinct has always been what it is. They had it coming. Period. Because of the corruptness.

One day I was sitting here as a kid at the beginning of a weekend in fall. There was a bus stop in front of the White Castle on Blaisdell. A cop pulls up, and I remember we made eye contact and I laughed. I had saliva in my mouth, and it came out when I spit. I literally just spit on the ground. He went through the drive-through parking of the White Castle, came back around and made us all stand up — asking what I was laughing at. He put our hands on the hood of his car. It’s September, October, so it’s kind of cold outside. Imagine what was going through our heads. He made us stand there. 

There was an older kid from this neighborhood and they had it out from him. He’s doing years right now.

I used to be a night manager at the Uptown Rainbow Foods, and I recognized the face of that particular police officer, Derek Chauvin. We had a few people we had to call the law on for trespassing. I remember his face. He was one of the weird, kind of ready-to-go ones.

Jessica Turner: When consumers would come in, suspected of stealing, he wanted to take them to jail, but he didn’t have to, he could have just written this person up for trespassing. He’d be like, “You want me to take him in?” 

Jeff Turner: You know what comes into my heart? Even with a minor charge, it was like “I’m going to f–k up a person’s life forever.”