Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo aims to restore law and order at George Floyd Square, a closed-off intersection where protestors gather to memorialize the death of George Floyd.
The intersection, located at 38th street and Chicago Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, has been a place of turmoil since the death of George Floyd occurred at the same spot. Since then, the area has been described as a “no-go zone” for cops, and has been occupied by civilian protestors who are “unwelcoming” to law enforcement.
WCCO radio reported that while the square initially attracted peaceful protestors and memorials with flowers, it is currently occupied by what locals call a “commune” with a medical tent and portable toilets.
The site has also been attracting more criminality and violence due to the lack of police presence, and has been stricken by a multitude of shootings. In 2020, there were 18 non-fatal shootings in the area compared to three the previous year.
According to the Star Tribune, Chief Arradondo did not give a timeline, but said that the FBI and local law enforcement will be involved in monitoring the area using all of their “legal resources and tools.” Agencies including the FBI Minneapolis Field Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota and the ATF St. Paul Field Division pledged their support and resources to the chief’s effort.
“As chief I refuse to abdicate one block, one city block, to a group of individuals who choose violence over peace…We cannot allow groups of individuals to feel that they’re emboldened. They have to be held accountable. Period. … Yes, I’m putting them on notice. Enough’s enough,” Arradondo said at a press conference.
He added that the best remedy to the situation is to reopen the intersection and lift the barricades, but he did not give a time frame, leaving many to doubt whether anything will happen soon.
According to the Star Tribune, officials have been looking to reopen the intersection for a while, but have decided it is best to wait until after the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer who is charged in Floyd’s death.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in an interview that the city is trying to figure out a way to safely remove the barriers while also protecting the memorial.
“We want to see some additional infrastructure added that would provide a bump-out at the location where George Floyd was killed, to prevent tires from ever rolling over that sacred ground again,” Frey said.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk, residents and businessowners near the square are frustrated over the increase in crime, and are “gripped by fear.”
He said, “These are residents, these are business owners and these are faith leaders who are simply trying to make a living, to raise their families, to build up their community and to uphold this space that to so many has become a sacred memorial. They must be able to do this in peace.”