Minneapolis leaders working towards 'respectful' way to reopen George Floyd Square after recent incidents
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - As day four of the Derek Chauvin trial was underway in Minneapolis, the area around George Floyd Square was peaceful.
Like most days, many people visited the memorial to mourn and pay their respect for George Floyd. But, it seems on any given day, at any time, the situation at 38th in Chicago can change drastically.
"I couldn’t come to Minnesota without coming here to experience it," said Cynthia Obeya, who was visiting the memorial on Thursday.
The memorial site, which includes a monument to Floyd set up in the middle of the intersection, is surrounded by four access points manned by self-appointed gatekeepers who decide who can come in. But, sometimes it can be unpredictable, and while often the area is safe, sometimes the situation can turn dangerous, like this past Saturday when police say they were met with interference trying to respond to a homicide.
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"This is an area that has two truths associated with it," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. "There are portions that you’ve seen there are certainly times that it’s a beautiful community gathering space and I think that needs to be honored and respected. And there have been times where it has been absolutely unsafe."
This week, a crew with cable network NewsNation found out what can happen if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time there. In a video from the crew, a group from the memorial walk up to the news crew, who were in the process of shooting a segment, and told them: "We’re going to have to ask you to leave."
Even after the reporter pointed out he was on the outside of the barricades, the individuals persisted.
"You’re going to be in a bad situation in a second," the individual warned in a video clip from NewsNation. "You’re being called out for what you are. You need to get out of here."
George Floyd Square is run by a group of people who say they will only give the intersection back to the city if 24 demands are met, all posted on social media. City leaders want to open the intersection but indicate it’s a balancing act.
"This is a sacred space; it can't just be a law enforcement presence marching in this has to be about a reconnection that, yes, allows for healing but also secures safety," explained Mayor Frey.
"It actually should be open now," explained Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. "But as the mayor said we want to do it in a way that is both respectful we obviously understand the sensitivity of it but we are absolutely working towards getting that intersection reopened."
With a handful of people running the area, many have called it an autonomous zone, meaning the people nor the City of Minneapolis do not control it. The mayor, however, refuses to call it that.
"That intersection has received a slew of city services ranging from snow clearance to street maintenance and EMS and 911 responses," said Mayor Frey.
The city has said the barriers will come down after the Derek Chauvin trial, so possibly in six weeks or so. But that may not be an easy transition and with traffic increasing recently, as the trial draws more news crews and people from out of town during the trial, the unpredictability is unsettling.