Minneapolis supporters of George Floyd were outraged, shocked, and concerned on Thursday after city crews enacted orders to remove large portions of the memorial commemorating Floyd in order to reopen street traffic.
The decision to move barricades at the corner of 38th and Chicago occurs one week after Floyd’s death anniversary and one day after Derek Chauvin, the cop who murdered Floyd, proposed probation and prison time equal to time already served prior to his sentencing hearing on June 25.
Activists have attempted to work with city officials presenting a list of demands and actions that can be taken in order to agree on how to move forward with the square. They feel the removal of the barricades is premature because all parties have not yet agreed on a process. George Floyd’s family and several community members are also involved in those talks.
“We’ve been here since the day it happened,” protest leader Janelle Austin told Agape leader Marquis Bowie, according to the Star-Tribune. “You guys didn’t go to the table to talk. They (the city) talked to us about it!”
City spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie told the Star-Tribune that a fist sculpture dedicated to Floyd placed in the middle of the intersection will remain while an “informal garden” of flowers and memorabilia at the square will be removed.
McKenzie also revealed that a civic community group named Agape Movement, a Minneapolis peacekeeping group that includes ex-gang members were contracted to survey the area in the next phase of transition.
Some critics of the memorabilia removal feel city leaders have succumbed to the pressure of local business owners who want street traffic reopened, claiming a surge of crime. A crowd of protesters gathered during the removal which began in the early hours of Thursday morning, chanting, “No justice, No Street.” However, the overall sentiment at the memorial remained calm.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano released the following statement ahead of a morning press conference after the intersection was reopened:
“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 Agape Movement brought together community leadership to begin facilitating the phased reconnection this morning, with the City playing a supportive role. We are grateful for the partnership.
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.
Alongside city leadership, we have met on a regular basis with community members to discuss both the short-term path toward reconnecting this area and the long-term plan for the neighborhood with sustained investments to help restore and heal the community.”
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