Neighborhood rallies around Kyle's Market and Calhoun Pet Supply owner after racist vandalism

Window replacement donation canisters on the counters at Kyle's Market, left, and neighboring Gigi's Cafe.
Window replacement donation canisters on the counters at Kyle's Market, left, and neighboring Gigi's Cafe.

The community around 36th Street and Bryant Avenue won't stand for vandalism on their block. Over the past week, residents and the nine businesses along a stretch of 36th have donated $1,100 to a local business owner whose shops were damaged in June.

Fuliang Zhou, who goes by Joe, owns Kyle's Market and Calhoun Pet Supply, two stores kitty-corner from each other across the intersection. Around 4:15 a.m. on June 12, a man smashed the windows of both stores. The incident was the fourth act of window-smashing since February, and the worst yet. While previous damage had been to either one shop or the other, this time the vandal hit both, and replacing the panes will cost $5,400.

But Joe's neighbors aren't leaving him to deal with the destruction alone. Immediately after the crime, many called police and expressed outrage; now, they're rallying with their wallets.

Last week, area resident Craig Planting and his wife went out and bought nine canisters, recruited a neighbor to cut holes in their tops, and labeled them "Window Replacement Fund." Planting put the first two in Joe's businesses, and after those raised $100 quickly, went around the street and asked the other shops on the block to keep the canisters next to their registers. All the businesses agreed.

When he tallied them a few days ago, the canisters had collected $511, Planting says. "We can't cover the whole cost, but I think it shows Joe and his wife how much the community supports and respects them."

Joe has also received direct donations, bringing the total raised to $1,100 (including, Planting reports, a $200 check from one couple). "This bad apple did a bad thing, but on the other hand, this happening has shown me how much a part of the community I am," Joe said. "So many people have told me, don't be discouraged, don't go."

Damaged windows at Kyle's Market.
Damaged windows at Kyle's Market.

Thanks in part to these community donations, Joe replaced five of the nine broken windows last Wednesday, and so far they remain intact. He plans to have the rest of the new glass in by early this week, and Planting says he will remove the fundraising canisters once all the windows are up. "The biggest fear," Planting says, "is that now that the windows are being replaced, they'll get smashed again."

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a police officer came in to check on Joe, and three out of five customers in one 15-minute period dropped their change in the window replacement fund. As they left, they all looked at the blown-up surveillance camera photo pasted to the left of the door: A man with his face wrapped up, destroying the windows.

A surveillance snap of the vandal in action, hanging next to the door at Kyle's Market.
A surveillance snap of the vandal in action, hanging next to the door at Kyle's Market.

Joe doesn't know the motive behind the vandalism. "My wife and I talk and try to recall anything we can, but we cannot match anything that caused this anger," Joe says. "We're wondering who and why."

On June 21, Crime Stoppers and the Minneapolis Police Department teamed up to offer $1,000 for information about a suspect pictured in three grainy surveillance-snaps: male, between 5'10" and 6'2" tall and 275 to 300 pounds. Their statement noted, "The owners have no known enemies and have received no threats. It is believed that the suspect may be targeting these businesses due to the cultural origins of the owners."

Police spokesperson Sgt. Bill Palmer says that, in the aftermath of the smashing, police have "increased presence in the area, both covert and overt."

Joe left China in 1989, in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, and earned his M.B.A. at St. Thomas. After his wife and son joined him in Minneapolis, he bought Kyle's Market in 1995, earned a second Master's from St. Thomas in 2000, and opened Calhoun Pet Supply five years ago. In his 17 years as a business owner, he says he has taken only three weeks off, for a trip back to China to visit his family. Until February of this year, while he had experienced "small, normal" damages like graffiti, he never encountered threats or vandalism.

Three surveillance photos of the suspect.
Three surveillance photos of the suspect.

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