On Friday Morning, Hafsa Islam, daughter of the owner of Bangladeshi-Indian restaurant woke up to the news that “Gandhi Mahal” got destroyed by fire. This was a family business and the damage meant that Islam’s family not only lost its main source of income all of a sudden but also years of hard work, taste, and effort every member of the team had put in to become an absolute favorite of the locals.
However, despite losing the source of bread and butter, her father Ruhel Islam chose to back the protest with bravery as Hafsa overheard her father talking to his friend with the following words
“Let my building burn. Justice needs to be served. We can rebuild a building but we cannot rebuild a human.”
Mr. Islam, at the age of 42, was still determined to continue supporting the protest as he believed that together as a community the restaurant can be rebuilt but for now justice is more important.
Gandhi Mahal restaurant was located almost next door to the Third Precinct headquarters of the Minneapolis Police Department. As the protestors decided to burn every other building in the heat of the moment, Islam’s place unfortunately also became the target.
The restaurant first opened its doors to the public back in 2008 when the country was struggling with the Great Recession. Islam named the place in the honor of Mohandas K. Gandhi and soon it became a hub for interfaith efforts against climate change, brilliant collection of art, and inside the basement, there was also a small aquaponics farm that served to be a source of great fresh ingredients for the restaurant.
All of that is lost now.
Islam’s family has decided to stand firm with the protestors since day one when they got to hear about the news of George Floyd’s murder – the African-American who was pinned down to the ground by a white police officer and his knee pressed against George Floyd’s neck.
Coincidentally, the daughter Hafsa was also passing by the red light after delivering the food Door Dash when she saw George Floyd being arrested. She got horrified at first, only to know that George Floyd died because of that brutal act.
“I understand why people did what they did. They had tried with the peaceful protesting, and it hasn’t been working.” said Hafsa.
Furthermore, Islam’s family continued to keep one spacious room of the restaurant opened when police fired tear gas on Tuesday, only to turn the place into a makeshift hospital. At least 200 people came in to catch a breath or get first aid after the rubber bullets had hit them badly. Mr. Islam, on the other hand, served them with daal, basmati rice, and naan – basically simple food but with high protein element to make sure that the protestors keep their energy high in the dark times.
Justice For George Floyd Minneapolis Protest
Moreover, during this period of crisis, just when the Bangladeshi family should be more concerned about reopening their restaurant, Ms. Islam left the spirits high by saying
“Sure, we had our business. Sure, we were trying to keep our kitchen open. But more than anything, we were concerned for our people.”
As per updates from authorities, the officer who killed George Floyd has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder.
In the end, Mr. Islam himself said
“I am going to continuously promote peaceful ways and nonviolent movement. But our younger generation is angry, and there’s reason to be angry.”