Barriers and memorials removed at ‘George Floyd Square’
Crews have removed the concrete barriers that blocked traffic at a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to George Floyd was assembled after his death last year.
However, community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers and resumed chanting the name of the black man whose killing galvanized the racial justice movement.
It took the city crews less than four hours to clear the barriers, artworks, flowers and other items from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Mr Floyd was killed. It is informally known as George Floyd Square.
Community group Agape, which had a contract with the city to keep watch over the area, co-ordinated the clearing of the intersection, according to city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.
A fist sculpture, which stands several feet tall, will remain, Ms McKenzie said.
The intersection had been closed to traffic since Mr Floyd’s death at the hands of police on May 25 2020, but some residents had started to express frustration that it has been closed to vehicles for so long.
Traffic briefly flowed through the intersection on Thursday morning after the concrete barriers were removed, but community members quickly erected new makeshift barriers.
Dozens of people gathered near the intersection, singing, chanting Mr Floyd’s name and giving speeches expressing frustration and urging people to continue organising.
Steve Floyd, one of Agape’s founders, said the group co-ordinated with the city to remove the barriers, rubbish bins and portable toilets.
Mr Floyd, who is not related to George Floyd, said his group was in talks with the city for about three months to figure out how to reopen the intersection.
He said he admires the demonstrators’ efforts in maintaining the square but that they had to engage the city in that process “instead of letting them come in here with bulldozers”.
“As far as controlling this and maintaining it, that’s a noble job. We don’t disrespect the protesters, everything can stay the same,” he said. “They can still do it. But we just let them in here to fix what we have and develop it.”
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Mr Floyd’s neck for about nine and a half minutes as he pleaded for air while handcuffed face down on the street.
Chauvin has also been indicted on federal charges alleging he violated Mr Floyd’s civil rights, as well as the civil rights of a 14-year-old he restrained in a 2017 arrest.
The three other former Minneapolis police officers involved in Mr Floyd’s arrest were also charged with federal civil rights violations. They await trial in state court on aiding and abetting counts.