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'Let my Building Burn, Justice Needs to be Served', Owner of Indian Eatery Backs Minneapolis Protest

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

A demonstrator holds a placard during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Gandhi Mahal Restaurant was severely damaged by fire as it was just doors away from the Third Precinct headquarters of the Minneapolis Police Department, which was set ablaze by protesters on Thursday night.

Unfazed by the fire that burnt down his Indian restaurant amid raging protests over the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd, the owner of a popular Minneapolis eatery backs protestors, saying: "let my building burn, justice needs to be served".

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American restaurant worker, died in Minneapolis on Monday after a white police officer pinned him to the ground. Video footage showed the officer kneeling on Floyd's neck as he gasped for breath, sparking widespread protests across the US.

The officer has been fired, and on Friday was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, the authorities said.

Gandhi Mahal Restaurant was severely damaged by fire as it was just doors away from the Third Precinct headquarters of the Minneapolis Police Department, which was set ablaze by protesters on Thursday night.

Unperturbed by the loss, Ruhel Islam, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi owner of the Indian restaurant, voiced his support for the protests that closed his family's "main source of income".

"Sadly, Gandhi Mahal has caught fire and has been damaged. We won't lose hope though, I am so grateful for our neighbours who did their best to stand guard and protect Gandhi Mahal. Your efforts won't go unrecognised. Don't worry about us, we will rebuild and we will recover," wrote Hafsa Islam, the 18-year-old daughter of Ruhel, in a Facebook post that has gone viral.

"As I am sitting next to my dad watching the news, I hear him say on the phone 'let my building burn, Justice needs to be served, put those officers in jail'. Gandhi Mahal may have felt the flames, but our firey drive to help protect and stand with our community will never die!" she said in the post that is winning hearts online.

Gandhi Mahal opened in 2008, during the Great Recession. Although Islam believes in nonviolent protest he named his restaurant in honour of Mahatma Gandhi he empathises with the frustration of many Minneapolis residents.

"I am going to continuously promote peaceful ways and nonviolent movement, but our younger generation is angry, and there's reason to be angry," Ruhel told The New York Times.

His family is respected in the locality for their community service. The restaurant has been a hub for interfaith efforts against climate change, and supports farmers and budding artists.

"We were just trying to do what we could to help our community. Sure, we had our business. Sure, we were trying to keep our kitchen open. But more than anything, we were concerned for our people," said Hafsa.