North Loop Restaurant Owner Organizes “Electric Slide Of Unity”
Hoping to create a moment of emotional relief and unity in the south Minneapolis neighborhood where he grew up, Jared Brewington, owner of Thigh Times Birdhouse in the North Loop Galley, had an idea.
After days of seeing the anger, sadness and pain expressed near 38th and Chicago, where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police, Brewington coordinated a group dance in the same area on Wednesday evening—what he called the “Electric Slide of Unity,” led by DJ Sota and DJ Phoenix.
“Everybody knows the Electric Slide,” said Brewington. “I wanted to connect with people in a physical way where we’re all moving in unison as one while we’re all together as one. A whole new aura fell on the place and it was one cathartic release.”
And when The Ellen Show shared a clip with her 89 million followers on Instagram the next day, it went worldwide.
“That was the traction I hoped would happen,” Brewington said. “For me, it was important that other visuals come from that neighborhood.”
Brewington, whose wife, Jenn, is on the North Loop Neighborhood Association board, has prominent friends in law enforcement including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson. Arradondo was “the cop” that everybody knew in his neighborhood growing up, he said, and they’ve served together on the board of YouthLink. He and Hutchinson became friends after meeting at the restaurant Brewington used to own, Funky Grits, across the street from where George Floyd was killed.
“They’re well aware of the feeling that certain communities, especially the black communities, have had for generations with law enforcement,” he said of Arradondo and Hutchinson. “I don’t envy either of their positions right now.”
Brewington believes police officers should view their roles as community partners as well as law enforcers. He said he personally has experienced what seemed like bias from officers, being pulled over at least five times while driving and not getting a citation because there was no legitimate reason to stop him in the first place. He has joined the protests over the past several days as well as organized cleanups and music events in the area.
He’s planning to help bring more art to the neighborhood, working with artists to create visuals “of our art scene, our love and our unity.”
He called Wednesday evening’s dance “a celebration of what peace looks like,” and he’s glad that so many have been able to get a glimpse of it.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association