By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From pandemic to protest, finally comes the sounds of life returning to city streets.

Crews are busy removing thousands of sheets of protective plywood which covered plate-glass storefronts across the Twin Cities.

“Now it’s coming down,” explains construction worker, Luke Pearson.

He and his fellow Jorgenson Construction crews are taking down what they two weeks ago began putting up.

“We did four to five buildings down here, and a bunch along Lake Street,” adds Pearson. “It was non-stop for a week.”

Block after block of businesses appear covered with pristine plywood sheeting. Yet with even just a few small screw holes piercing each panel, the sheeting can’t be returned to stores. Instead, much of the plywood will be put in storage or sold as salvage construction material.

“We’re going to call it, Los Andes Latin Bistro,” explains an excited, Guillermo Quito.

We found him supervising work on his long-delayed dream. At the former Dulono’s Pizza on Lake Street, Quito will finally get to open his new South American restaurant. It’s coming a full eight months after purchasing and remodeling the building at Lyndale and Lake.

“We delayed when COVID-19 happened, because a lot of people were not able to work. After that we kept pushing, kept going. Then George Floyd happened and we survived that also,” adds Quito.

But for many, this is so much more than about removing plywood panels.

“Our goal is to preserve the art,” says Morgan Luzier.

She is a member of the Lyn-Lake Business Association which is frantically working to preserve a number of colorful, creative, impactful murals.

“We’re not exactly sure what the best use of it is. So we want it to be a community-driven process,” added Luzier. “Like, what happens to the art and what kind of installment that we will do.”

What began as mere protection during heated, violent protests got transformed. These powerful social justice statements deserving of preservation in our plywood pages of history.

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