Bitter denunciations were flowing Thursday as Minneapolis city officials began following through on their pledge to reopen George Floyd Square to traffic.
The spot was simply another downtown intersection until Floyd’s death in police custody last May. As protests erupted throughout the city, the area was turned into an impromptu community protest zone, complete with artwork and barriers.
Amid concerns from local businesses that they were suffering, city officials had said they would allow the square to remain blocked to traffic only until the end of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who last month was convicted of murder in Floyd’s death.
City crews arrived at the square at 4:30 a.m. to begin taking apart the memorial and its barriers.
City officials were working with community representatives to remove items that need to be preserved in some fashion while leaving others as a permanent memorial, said city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
For example, McKenzie said, a sculpture of a massive fist will remain in the square in a traffic roundabout, but a garden nearby will be removed.
Activist Leon Lyons told the outlet he was disappointed by the city’s actions.
“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.”
After city workers had completed their work, protesters blocked traffic at the site while social media was filled with anger that the city had done what it said it would.
Here’s what it looks like at 38th and Chicago.
Crews are here dismantling barricades around George Floyd Square.
Community members continue to show up.
— Ashley Zilka (@ashleyzilka) June 3, 2021
To be clear, not a single Black person in this city has been assured by the City of Minneapolis that they will not kill us anymore.
— Patience Zalanga (@patiencezalanga) June 3, 2021
The city of Minneapolis dismantling George Floyd Square after a year of doing absolutely nothing to stop the problem that led to George Floyd’s murder in the first place but patting themselves on the back anyway is so on brand for white liberals.
— Communist Sailor Moon ☭🇬🇹🌙 (@stealyoredbull) June 3, 2021
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano issued a joint statement about Thursday’s actions, according to KSTP-TV.
“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,” they said.
The liberal politicians said that a community “peacekeeping force” known as the Agape Movement was really running the show.
“The Agape Movement brought together community leadership to begin facilitating the phased reconnection this morning, with the City playing a supportive role,” they said in the statement. “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,” the politicians said.
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