MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The intersection at 38th and Chicago, now better known as George Floyd Square, has not been open to vehicle traffic for most of the last year after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. And while crews tried to remove barriers and open things back up on Tuesday morning, that apparently didn’t last long.
"This space right in here is a memorial, but the other area surrounding it is nothing more than a safe haven for would-be looters and drug dealers and gangs," neighbor Larry Cregg told FOX 9.
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?’"
Inside the square, activists disagree.
"This is the sacred space that everybody should feel safe in, and it shouldn’t be open," Elul Adoga said. "I feel very safe here because there’s no cops here."
"Cars should not be driving through [a] memorial," Emame Thompson-Eja added. "I feel very safe, I love being here."
Still, Cregg says he’s witnessed murder just past his front doorstep and claims police aren’t responding to calls in the area.
"He lay right there on the pavement, for about an hour and a half," Cregg said of the apparent murder. "They called the ambulance 90 times, they had to scoop them up take them to the van and take him to the hospital… he died later."
Mayor Jacob Frey’s office sent FOX 9 a statement on Tuesday, saying, "Our position has remained consistent that George Floyd Square must be an enduring place for racial justice and healing, with a permanent community-led memorial honoring George Floyd’s legacy. City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, City Council Member Alondra Cano and I are working to ensure that significant resources from the recently-finalized plan for federal stimulus funds as well as the implementation of the 38th Street Thrive Plan continue to go toward the creation of the memorial and Black owned business and property ownership in and around the intersection. The City also remains committed to ensuring basic access to government services from safety and security to transit and trash collection for one of our city’s historically Black corridors, which is not possible if the area is barriered off as an autonomous zone."
However, exactly when the intersection will be reopened is unknown.