After the intersection in Minneapolis known as “George Floyd Square” became a focus of the world last year, the city is finally beginning plans to reopen the area to traffic with the help of a peacekeeping group.
On Thursday, Minneapolis crews began to take away a large part of the memorial that was created over the past year at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in the southern area of the city where Floyd died.
The Star Tribune reported, “Municipal workers began the process about 4:30 a.m. at 38th and Chicago — dubbed George Floyd Square — with community representatives involved in coordinating the removal of flowers, artwork and variously sized barriers and shacks, said city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.”
Protesters made their voices heard as the crews worked, setting up a barrier while a small group reportedly called out, “no justice, no peace.”
McKenzie said that Agape, a peacekeeping group that employs some former gang members from the area, entered into a contract with the city to help keep an eye out in the region. She did say that the “fist sculpture” in the middle of the intersection will stay there while the items around it will be taken away.
Mayor Jacob Frey has said that he is in favor of a “phased reopening” of the area that would also have a Floyd memorial. Frey and the two City Council members whose wards meet at the area, Andrea Jenkins and Alondra Cano, put out a statement Thursday that said, “We are collectively committed to establishing a permanent memorial at the intersection, preserving the artwork, and making the area an enduring space for racial healing.”
“The City’s three guiding principles for the reconnection of 38th and Chicago have been community safety, racial healing and economic stability and development for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other communities of color,” the statement said.
Some members of the community were unhappy with the city’s actions, including Leon Lyons, of the security company Truth2Enlightenment.
“That could have been fine,” Lyons said. “All they had to do was leave this memorial alone and leave the events that were playing here while we figure it out. But none of this is gonna be up by the end of the night, anything that the city brings in here will not stay by the end of the night, I guarantee you.”
As reported by The Daily Wire in April, after a little over 10 hours of deliberation, a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of Floyd.
On May 25, 2020, Chauvin and three other officers arrested and detained Floyd after he allegedly gave counterfeit money at a convenience store. Following a struggle to get Floyd into the back of a police cruiser, viral video shows that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes to detain Floyd while awaiting paramedics.
The reopening of the intersection has been an intense debate for some time as local residents experience crime and lack of business while activists pushed their own requirements for reopening.
As The Daily Wire noted last month, the Star Tribune reported in January that “George Floyd Square” is “one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, providing essential access to transit, businesses and the nearby neighborhood,” but it has been shut down from traffic since late May because it became a memorial “and because city officials and community groups can’t come to terms on a more permanent memorial, reopening to traffic or social justice efforts.”
“From a safety standpoint, neighbors and law enforcement are concerned about the increase in crime around the area and the perception that it’s almost a ‘no go’ zone for police,” the outlet reported in January.
It added that “the city needs access for street cleaning, rubbish removal and snowplowing. In addition, in an online survey done by the city, 65% of people said they supported reopening the intersection in some form. About 19% said they believed the area should remain closed indefinitely.”
On the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death, gunshots notably rung out in “George Floyd Square,” prompting a reporter to take cover as he was reporting.
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