MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a year of trauma for the Twin Cities. The south Minneapolis neighborhood was Ground Zero for destruction after the killing of George Floyd. For awhile, it seemed there was no chance of staying open, but one vendor says, thanks to some unsuspecting helpers, she’s back in business.

As the night sky lit up, buildings burned down. Lake Street, an area known for its Latinx leaders and culture, was devastated by damage in the unrest following Floyd’s death.

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“I did not sleep for those three nights they were rioting. I was staying up waking up every hour checking my phone, checking the news to see where they were at and if they were still peaceful,” Mariana Camacho, co-owner of Los Vaqueros De Chihuahua Boots, said.

And then came the call that the family’s boot store was on fire.

“My father was the first one to get here and he found a group of 50, 60 people just trying to get as much as they can. You just heard the alarms going off,” Camacho said. “It was really, almost like a traumatic experience because I sat there and its like, now we have to start from the beginning. … I understood the movement and I was frustrated with them too, but my business getting destroyed is just stress on top of stress and stress and stress.”

That’s when Urban Ventures stepped in and put their on boots to the ground. The Lake Street group, known for getting kids who are born into poverty to college, quickly refocused.

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“It was triage, what can we do right now as quickly as possible, and then we’ll figure out the rest later,” Luke Trouten, with Urban Ventures, said.

They helped secure immediate $5,000 grants for 111 neighboring businesses, including Camacho’s.

“Honestly, without them and the opportunities they gave me, we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Urban Ventures’ volunteers helped put in new floors and, with the grant and insurance, Los Vaqueros De Chihuahua Boots is one year later completely restored.

“It’s things that could be replaced you know, and George Floyd’s life, that he will never get back. So we took it as a positive situation and take it as an opportunity that this is really an opportunity for a brand new start,” Camacho said. “I really hope the community and everybody else still gives us a chance. It’s excellent over here on Lake Street.”

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Three months after the violence, 97% of the businesses Urban Ventures served last year were able to reopen, and they’re continuing efforts to support the community. Click here for more information on how you can help. You can also volunteer as a mentor or simply come out and support Lake Street businesses like Los Vaqueros De Chihuahua Boots.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield