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US Workers reopen intersection where George Floyd died in Minneapolis despite activists' demands

23:30  03 june  2021
23:30  03 june  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Work crews on Thursday removed the concrete barricades, artwork and flowers from the street where George Floyd died last year, but activists continue to occupy the square.

City officials have said for months that George Floyd Square should be reopened, but some organizers who have occupied the space since his death believe it should remain closed until the city meets their list of 24 demands to achieve justice.

Minneapolis Public Works crews began arriving before sunrise, according to video shared on Instagram by Marcia Howard, a teacher and caretaker of the square. Howard, who lives just steps away from the square, said she and other community members learned earlier this week that the city was planning to remove the memorial.

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"Injustice closed these streets," Howard wrote. "Only justice should open them."

Workers placed caution tape around the giant sculpture of a raised fist at the center of the intersection of 38th and Chicago, which features murals memorializing Floyd and other people of color killed by police, candles, a community greenhouse and security booths built by activists. It took less than four hours to clear the barriers, artwork, flowers and other items from the street.

a group of people flying kites in a building: People walk through George Floyd Square after shots were fired on the one year anniversary of George Floyd's death on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Minneapolis. © Christian Monterrosa, AP People walk through George Floyd Square after shots were fired on the one year anniversary of George Floyd's death on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Minneapolis.

Traffic briefly flowed through the intersection, but activists continue to occupy the square and have installed impromptu barricades to replace the ones taken down earlier. Dozens gathered near the intersection, singing, chanting and listening to speeches expressing frustration.

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The effort to open the square was "community-led" with the help of The Agape Movement, a nonprofit that stepped in to provide security in the square, according to Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano.

Frey said at a press conference Thursday the city worked to preserve the art and keep the fist statue intact as part of a permanent memorial. The mayor vowed to invest directly in Black owned businesses in the square to promote racial justice and healing.

Frey acknowledged that the intersection "will forever be changed," and emphasized that the reopening will occur in phases.

"We recognize there is still pain associated with this street," Frey said. "Full reconnection is not going to happen all at once."

Steve Floyd, one of Agape’s founders who is not related to George Floyd, said Thursday the need to open the square intensified due to violence in the community over the past year.

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Dameon Chambers was fatally shot at the square when many people had gathered to celebrate Juneteenth. Shots were fired during an event commemorating the one year anniversary of Floyd's death last week, leaving one person injured.

Floyd said the barricades were removed early in the morning to avoid confrontations with activists in the square.

"We was going to get pushback," he said. "We expected that."


Video: TIMELINE: From Minneapolis to DC, how the death of George Floyd impacted us one year later (WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.)

Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder told USA TODAY that the department does not have personnel involved in opening the square.

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Jay Webb, who helped build the memorial, told MPR the removal came as a surprise and that it should be left untouched.

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“That they try to come at 5 o’clock in the morning to try and displace us is further proof that they’re trying to marginalize us even more," Webb told the outlet.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said during a news conference at the intersection that the removal of the memorial was an attack on Floyd’s legacy.

“This space is a space that has now become a national memorial, a national memorial for victims of police violence all over this world,” Hussein said. “We will not give up this space,” he said. “We will save it for George Floyd.”

The intersection closed to traffic soon after Floyd’s death and quickly turned into a memorial. The square has become an almost sacred space for collective mourning, healing and joy.

Residents celebrated in the street in front of Cup Foods, where Floyd was handcuffed, in April when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd's murder. Chauvin faces sentencing on June 25. Three other fired officers involved in Floyd's death will stand trial in March.

On the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death, the square was transformed into an outdoor festival and candlelight vigil.

The square has become a challenging spot for some city officials, who said the street closure is hurting businesses and making policing the area more difficult.

Minneapolis crews remove barricades at George Floyd Square as city pledges to create a permanent memorial

  Minneapolis crews remove barricades at George Floyd Square as city pledges to create a permanent memorial Minneapolis city workers on Thursday removed parts of a memorial at the intersection where George Floyd took his final breaths, as the city stated its plans to create a permanent memorial while reopening the area to through-traffic. © WCCO Crews begin work to reopen George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Thursday. On Thursday morning, multiple workers could be seen moving cement barricades in the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street with tractors and trucks.

City leaders pledged to reopen the square after Chauvin's murder trial.

"People are hurting," Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said during a news conference. "They need that intersection reopened. The best public safety remedy right now is to open up and get that intersection flowing again."

Caretakers of the square vowed to keep the area closed until their demands are met and the trials of the other officers have concluded. The demands include recalling the county prosecutor, firing the head of the state’s criminal investigative agency, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on programs to create jobs, combat racism and support affordable housing.

City officials said in a statement that they have met on a regular basis with community members to discuss the long-term plan for investing in the neighborhood to "restore and heal the community."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

From April: Cheers and tears in George Floyd Square as guilty verdict read: 'Light will defeat dark'

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Workers reopen intersection where George Floyd died in Minneapolis despite activists' demands

EXPLAINER: Noor ruling could have impacts for other ex-cops .
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court is deciding how to interpret the state's third-degree murder statute in a police killing case that is expected to have repercussions for the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd. The state's highest court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Damond, a dual U.S.-Australian citizen engaged to a Minneapolis man, had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home. Noor was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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