By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new campaign is working to save the plywood at boarded-up businesses throughout Minneapolis.

Hundreds of businesses were damaged in the days after George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day. As they were boarded up, business owners, artists and community members turned the boards into pieces of art and words of activism.

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From sprawling murals, to community street-style art, the boards tell a story. Kenda Zellner-Smith remembers driving to work in the days after Floyd’s death, trying to process her feelings. She saw the boards covered in messages.

“I saw it and I was like, ‘I can go to work today. I can get through today,’” Zellner-Smith said.

She is behind Save the Boards Minneapolis. The organization, along with Memorialize the Movement, wants to store and preserve the boards that have become art and activism. The campaign aims to make them accessible to the public.

Zellner-Smith had a booth in Loring Park Sunday where women, Black, Indigenous, and people of color-owned businesses were on display. Community members could paint pieces of plywood found during cleanup outside the Kmart on Lake Street.

(credit: CBS)

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“Any boards we see up on businesses, anywhere they have art or graffiti, making sure we can keep them accessible and public to the community for that reason of healing,” Zellner-Smith said.

While still in the planning stages, she says she’s talked with the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery about the idea for an exhibition to show how Minneapolis was at the center of a movement on race and police brutality.

“Let’s keep creating and keep Minneapolis this space. We acknowledge what happened, and we’ll continue to work progressively to help you guys and help the Black community,” she said.

Organizers say that the money will help to store and preserve the boards, as well as putting on an annual exhibit that they hope to start in May of next year.

Organizers of Save The Boards and Memorialize The Movement say the long-term goal is to find a permanent home for the boards.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the preservation effort.

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Kate Raddatz