Shortly after 8 p.m. on Memorial Day, May 25, Mahmoud “Mike” Abumayyaleh got a panicked phone call from a teenage employee at the store he owns with his three brothers. “Mike! Mike! They’re killing him,” shesaid.“My heart dropped. Like, it fell to the ground,” Mahmoud told me. He had no clue what she was talking about. At first, he assumed a customer was accosting a worker.
Frantically, his employee explained what was happening: A police officer had pinned a customer to the ground outside the store, and that man was saying he couldn’t breathe. Mahmoud manages the day shift at CUP Foods at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in southern Minneapolis, but that night, young employees were working the store alone. There’d been a brief confrontation with a man accused of passing a fake bill. Then an 18-year-old clerk dialed 911. The man was named George Floyd, and minutes later, a cop was kneeling on his neck.
By the afternoon after Floyd’s killing, CUP Foods’ voicemail box was full. As the day wore on, a devastated and furious group began to gather at the intersection. They chanted, prayed, and consoled one another. Outside the shop, numbers swelled into the thousands.