George Floyd autonomous zone residents: HELP!

Quite the plaintive plea coming from the shining example of abolish-the-police populism in Minneapolis. Surprisingly, the Star Tribune published this cry for help and prayers by George Floyd autonomous zone resident Monica Nilsson prominently on its pages today. They explain that Nilsson represents “a collection of neighbors adjacent to “George Floyd Square,” neighbors who apparently prefer to remain anonymous … for good reason.

Rather than a place for peaceful co-existence, George Floyd Square and its no-go status with the police has become a war zone — and not just the square itself, but the surrounding neighborhood as well:

As neighbors of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, also known as George Floyd Square or the autonomous zone, we are witnessing a revolution by day and a devolution by night.

Prayer gatherings canceled. Rallies canceled. Visitors arriving with flowers in hand, only to retreat to their cars when greeted by the sound of gunshots. Neighbors ducking for cover behind our houses, children in tow.

The spiritual health of our community, the feeling of being connected to something larger than ourselves, is collapsing.

The residents keep calling 911 and the police do respond, but Nilsson reports that they “are met by hostile groups when responding.” In a ten-day period, this one neighborhood experiences several episodes of random gunfire, which people deliberately obfuscate by tampering with the evidence after the fact. They have inadvertently landed in a much different community than the Minneapolis they knew less than a year ago, in spirit and in fact as long as the city treats “George Floyd Square” as an autonomous zone.

Small wonder, then, that Nilsson reports that 20% of her neighbors have already fled, with another 20% preparing to move soon. “We are unsure when help is coming,” Nilsson concludes, but clearly doesn’t see it arriving in the near future.

That leaves residents at the mercy of a “militant-style group,” the New York Post reported last week:

But since then, a militant-style group has taken over the blocks-long site, creating a hostile situation for authorities and protesters alike, NewsNation Now reported.

“The situation at the memorial, from what I understand, is its kind of volatile,” Kim Griffin, a Minneapolis resident, told the outlet. “People that want to go and support doesn’t feel a sense of inclusion. There is more of a like militant-type atmosphere over there and a sense of fear.”

Griffin said her nephew, Imez Wright, was gunned down within the zone over the weekend — and that activists blocked cops from responding.

“Police were not allowed to get into that area; he was carried out outside of the zone of George Floyd Square,” she said. “It was made clear law enforcement was not welcome to penetrate that zone, which is an atrocity because his life was taken, and I mean who knows whether or not he would have survived had things been different.”

AlphaNewsMN had earlier reported on the spike in violence around the autonomous zone, including the shooting that took the life of Griffin’s nephew:

A shooting over the weekend at the George Floyd memorial site in Minneapolis has left one person dead.

It’s at least the fourth homicide and one of several shootings that have taken place at or near the memorial since George Floyd died at the location while in police custody last May. …

The statement released by MPD also said that officers “were met with interference at the scene.” During a press briefing on the shooting, police spokesperson John Elder declined to elaborate on the details of the alleged interference experienced by officers.

The area has been barricaded and patrolled by activists since the death of Floyd, and police have said they’ve frequently been met with resistance while trying to respond to emergency incidents within the barricades.

At some point, the city of Minneapolis will have to dismantle the barricades and re-exert its jurisdiction over “George Floyd Square.” This exclusion zone, even if informal, undermines the rule of law and abandons Minneapolis citizens and residents. It is an abdication of the city council’s responsibility and duty. Of course, this city council has made a habit of abdication, especially over the past year. Nilsson and her neighbors will, unfortunately, have a long wait for the city to assert its jurisdiction again.