Law enforcement officials in Minneapolis, Minnesota, moved into to swiftly dismantle an “autonomous zone” that cropped up in response to a June 3rd police-involved shooting in the city’s Uptown neighborhood — but the city is still struggling to reopen George Floyd Square, home to a makeshift memorial and an “autonomous zone” of its own.
According to a Minneapolis CBS affiliate, police have been struggling to “retake” the “the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue” since early June, but doubled down on the efforts this week, after a protester was killed by a speeding driver.
The “autonomous Zone” at Lake and Hennepin “has been shut down on and off since June 3, when Winston Boogie Smith Jr., 32, was shot and killed by law enforcement,” the outlet reported. “But tensions escalated significantly since the death of 31-year-old protester Deona Knajdek Sunday night. She was killed when a speeding car crashed into her car, which she was using to protect protesters. Three other people were injured. The driver is in custody and will likely be charged Wednesday. Police say drugs or alcohol may have been a factor.”
Police first tried to clear the area around noon on Tuesday, but after being pushed back by protesters protecting the “autonomous zone,” returned Tuesday night and began fully dismantling barricades and arresting some remaining members of the demonstration resisting their call to reopen the intersection.
The city’s Fox affiliate, which was “on the scene” noted that reporters “saw officers from multiple agencies move in around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and put up tape around Lake Street between Girard Avenue and Hennepin Avenue. A handful of protesters appeared to be under arrest with cuffed with zipties around their wrists. City crews also loaded up trucks with items placed in the road by protesters to create the makeshift barricades.”
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey, who has tangled with the organized protests in Minneapolis for more than a year, announced Tuesday that the city would not tolerate the Uptown “autonomous zone” because of safety concerns.
“We recognize that peaceful protest and First Amendment speech is extremely essential, not just to the healing process, but to the democratic process and we want to make sure that it’s protected, but we cannot allow the unauthorized closure of streets,” said Frey during a press conference Tuesday afternoon,” Frey said in a press conference. “It is dangerous to have the street closed off with makeshift barriers. It has been dangerous for both to patrons, to residents, and also to protesters, who we have an obligation [to] make sure the people are indeed safe.”
The city, though, is, it seems, willing to tolerate some autonomous zones, just not the Uptown autonomous zone. Despite being warned that residents of the George Floyd autonomous zone, which cropped up around the scene of George Floyd’s death while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, are “trapped” and feel unprotected, that zone remains.
Early in June, The Daily Wire reported, Minneapolis police made an effort to dismantle that autonomous zone following an incident of gun violence but they were ultimately driven back by protesters. Activists, Mercury News reports, quickly moved into re-establish barriers and continue their demonstration.