|A photo I believe of the burning Uncle Hugo's |
and Uncle Edgar's
A few weeks ago I watched on television and the internet the protests arising from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was a shocking wrongful death that was far away from me. Downtown Minneapolis is exactly 1,600 kilometers from Melfort. When riots erupted and buildings were burned and stores looted I was upset over the destruction and lawlessness yet it was still distant for me. Events became personal when I read that the building housing Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s bookstore had been burned. I had visited Uncle Edgar’s on every trip I made to Minneapolis in recent years. There are posts on the blog about Uncle Edgar’s in the page on mystery bookstores.
Rational or not I think it is human nature to feel more deeply events to which you feel a connection. The burning of Uncle Edgar’s made me angry. I doubt it was targeted. It is hard to see how a business selling science fiction and crime fiction could cause offence. I expect it was a mindless act of arson.
Burning a bookstore is an attack upon knowledge. The stores contained thousands and thousands of books. I know they were fiction but they contained stories that enlighten, inform, entertain, even challenge readers.
I consider our society diminished whenever a bookstore closes. When the loss is due to arson the destroyed books make the loss greater.
I condemn the violence that included the burning of Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s. Society does not move ahead because of such violence. The advances in human rights during my lifetime have come from the actions of legislators and court judgments.
I believe violent acts such as the arson in Minneapolis provoke reactions that make change harder.
Owner Don Blyly says he was told there was video on the internet of a white guy in a mask setting the fire.
There are several clips on YouTube of arrests for arsonists in Minneapolis. I have yet to read that any of them are charged with burning the bookstore.
The American ATF of the federal government said it is investigating over 150 fires in the Twin Cities.
Don describes what happened in a message he sent out after the fire:
There was a call from the security company around 3:30 this morning that the motion detector was somebody in the building. I threw on clothes and headed over there. When I was 2 blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around. As I pulled into the dentist’s lot I could see that flames were leaping out of the front windows on the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again.
More particulars are available on the website for the stores.
I have spent my life working to uphold the Rule of Law. As a defence counsel representing those charged with offences I seek to have the laws of our province and country justly applied. Rioters and arsonists challenge the Rule of Law. I hope the arsonist or arsonists are soon caught and tried and punished.
For Don the financial loss was huge. He has advised that he is eligible for insurance. He is not sure if he will rebuild. I hope he will find the will and resources to have a new Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.
Rather than just be angry I have decided I want to help Don. His son, Sam, has started a GoFundMe page. A link is at the end of this post. To date almost $150,000 has been raised.
The conflicting emotions Don is experiencing are set out in links on the GoFundMe page.
I hope my modest donation and the contributions of 2,500 other readers will convince Don to open a new store. It would be a powerful example of determination and faith in the future. I believe books are important to the future of all peoples and nations.