Starting the week of Aug. 17, the city of Minneapolis will begin to reopen 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the intersection where George Floyd was killed and which has become a memorial site for victims of police violence.
City employees told neighborhood leaders in a meeting Thursday that they would start to reopen 38th Street, said Carmen Means, executive director of the Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization. Council Member Andrea Jenkins, who represents the area, confirmed that and said city employees are talking with community members about how it would be done.
The city has yet to offer details on reopening the street to traffic, though Means said Chicago Avenue would remain blocked off for the time being. A memorial in the middle of the intersection, featuring a large sculpture of a raised fist, would have to be relocated, she said.
The intersection is barricaded by concrete blocks, with people only able to enter on foot. It is filled with art and writings honoring Floyd and other Black people killed by police.
A few businesses in the area have restarted. Cup Foods, the convenience store whose 911 call led to Floyd’s death, reopened Monday despite opposition from demonstrators.
The intersection has also begun to earn a reputation for rising crime, including fatal shootings. Jenkins has questioned the apparent reluctance of officers to enter past the barricades, saying it has been referred to as a “no-go zone” by the police.
Jenkins said she recognized the intersection was a “sensitive area” and that she wanted to make sure it remained a site for memorials and gatherings.
“There is a desire to understand what are the visions that the community sees as justice, and then to begin to work on those things in order to go into moving forward with progress,” she said.
Neighbors have patrolled the intersection in an attempt to keep it calm, Means said.
“We do understand that safety is a must, that safety shouldn’t even have to be asked for,” she said. “However, justice is a must. We too shouldn’t have to ask for that, but we have to demand it.”
Residents who have occupied what they call the “George Floyd Square Zone” sent the city a list of demands they want enacted before the barricades are removed. They include recalling Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, requiring officers to have private liability insurance and allocating funding for residents and businesses in the area.
“Right now this busy intersection is the one piece of protest that a lot of folks deemed necessary in order for justice to be served,” Means said.
Next month, the City Council will consider giving Chicago Avenue between 37th and 39th streets the commemorative name of “George Perry Floyd Jr. Place.”