They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women.
Jimmy Mills’s life has been upended by both. His barbershop in Midtown Minneapolis was one of many small, black-owned businesses that have struggled to survive the pandemic. But Mr. Mills was hopeful because, after two months shut down, he was due to reopen next week.
Then early on Friday, the working-class neighborhood where Mr. Mills has cut hair for 12 years went up in flames as chaotic protests over the death of George Floyd and police killings of African-Americans engulfed Minneapolis and cities across the country.
“To have corona, and then this — it’s like a gut shot,” Mr. Mills, 56, said.
The upheaval sparked by a video capturing Mr. Floyd’s agonizing last minutes as a white police officer kneels on his neck is pulsing through an America already ragged with anger and anxiety. Emotions are raw over the toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 people across the country and cost millions of jobs.
Minneapolis residents said outrage and protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd were a result of a community being tested repeatedly in recent weeks by both police violence and the virus — and in ways that put America’s deep racial inequalities in stark relief.
The outbreak has inflicted disproportionate economic and health tolls on racial minorities and immigrants in Minneapolis and beyond. Black and Latino workers have been more likely to have lost their jobs. Many others are among the low-paid hourly workers who risk their health by going to work at grocery stores, nursing homes, factories, slaughterhouses and other jobs that cannot be done remotely.
The black community in Minnesota has also been hit hard by cases of the virus, just as African-Americans across the country are being infected and dying at higher rates.