Maybe the third time will be the charm — but it might require the city of Minneapolis to enforce a reopening of George Floyd Square. For the second time in five days, city workers removed barriers yesterday to reopen the intersection at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd died in custody just over a year ago. And for the second time in five days, activists blocked traffic again hours later without any opposition from authorities:
City crews returned early Tuesday to a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to George Floyd was assembled after his death last year and worked to reopen it to traffic by removing debris and makeshift barriers, only to have activists barricade the area again.
Workers using front-end loaders and brooms arrived just before 5 a.m. and cleared the intersection where Floyd was killed, which is informally known as George Floyd Square, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The intersection has been closed to traffic since Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, and some residents and businesses have expressed frustration that it has been closed for so long.
Last Thursday, city crews removed concrete barriers that blocked traffic at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, but community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers and resumed chanting the name of the Black man whose killing galvanized the racial justice movement.
As soon as workers left the area on Tuesday, activists moved back in, again blocking traffic with parked cars, trash cans, traffic signs and other items in a repeat of last Thursday’s scene.
“That apparently didn’t last very long,” the local Fox affiliate quipped. Residents are getting fed up over the city’s pusillanimity as well. One vocal opponent of the so-called “autonomous zone” told KMSP that it’s like living in a war zone:
George Floyd Square sits across the street from Cregg’s home of 33 years, which is now decorated with bullet holes.
“This is George Floyd Square. It’s just like Vietnam, it’s just like Beirut, Lebanon – every day, every day, every day,” Cregg said. “I would definitely be happy if they can get it open.”
Crews briefly removed makeshift barriers in the area on Tuesday morning, but Larry’s happiness was short-lived, after he says people showed up and re-blocked the road not long after.
“Enough is enough already,” Cregg said. He thinks the square is a safe haven for criminals and says the intersection has become a dangerous place.
“I hear gunshots every night… pow pow pow, shot him three times and drove off. You can walk down the street and buy any amount of drugs you want,” Cregg said. “They’ll just walk right up to you, ‘hey you want some drugs, you got the money?’”
Not everyone agrees with this assessment, obviously — otherwise the barriers wouldn’t keep going up. That’s not really the pressing issue here for the city, though. Clearly they have made a decision to reopen the intersection and restore services. By not following through with law enforcement to keep the streets from getting blocked again, Minneapolis’ leadership makes themselves look weak and vacillating, incentivizing more disorder and obstruction rather than restoring normalcy and services.
It has become very clear that the city is afraid to establish its sovereignty at this corner. One has to wonder how many more intersections will get seized by activists in the absence of any moral fortitude by Mayor Jacob Frey and the city council.