While cars, buildings and dumpsters were set on fire in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night as protestors demonstrated for a fourth consecutive night, Perry Forbes, a 27-year-old Bahamian living in the city for nearly a decade, was safely tucked away at home with his family.
Residents protested and rioted following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed while being detained by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.
Forbes said he lives about 10 miles from downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, and 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis.
While he supports the cause of the demonstrations, Forbes said he refuses to join the protesters.
“I’ve seen the videos,” Forbes told The Nassau Guardian as the city burned.
“I know what the police presence is going to be like. We saw it on Wednesday night; the tear gas, the rubber bullets. For me, as a permanent resident, the current administration going on right now, I don’t want to get swept up in those kinds of things.
“It doesn’t take long for a permanent resident to lose his or her residency and be deported back to his or her home country.”
The protests in Minneapolis peaked on Thursday night when demonstrators bombarded a police precinct and lit it on fire.
The death of George Floyd has sparked protests in major cities across the United States, including Atlanta, New York and Houston.
Thousands of protesters marched to the White House in Washington, D.C., yesterday, causing a lockdown of the building for about an hour.
Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Sidney Collie told The Guardian that his office as well as the consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, are “monitoring the situation in Fulton County, Atlanta, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, where states of emergencies have been invoked”.
“The safety and welfare of Bahamians generally and Bahamian students, in particular, our top concerns,” he said this morning.
“To date, we have no reports of any Bahamians being impacted.”
On Thursday, Forbes was conducting inspections for Minneapolis Metro, a job he took up after the COVID-19 pandemic started.
His job site was about a 15-minute walk from where the protests were taking place.
“It was actually very close to the protest, maybe about a mile [away]. Helicopters flying overhead all day yesterday,” Forbes said.
“They were trying to keep track of everybody, I guess.”
He continued, “It was just a surreal moment. There were buses that were vandalized a block away from where I was working.
“Metro actually had to move all of their buses out of the city. Right now, it’s just a scary situation overall. Not in terms of fearing for my safety, but fearing for everybody’s life who is out there.”
Asked what was going through his mind, Forbes replied, “To be honest, I was just thinking about my personal safety and ensuring that nothing really happens on the site.
“Like I said, these are very trying times to keep a level head.”
He said his work has closed down his job site as a result of the protests.
During a press conference early this morning, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz warned that the situation remains “incredibly dangerous”.
He said he understood the “rage” but not the “wanton destruction”.
Major General Jon Jensen, the head of Minnesota’s National Guard, said he hoped 1,700 soldiers will be deployed by this evening to help bring widespread rioting in the city and elsewhere under control.