The return of law enforcement won’t come a moment too soon for those stuck in and around the so-called George Floyd autonomous zone. For months, the city of Minneapolis has allowed the area around the spot where Floyd died in police custody to fester, supposedly as a monument to Floyd. Instead, radical activists and criminals have taken over in and around the city-erected traffic barricades, and they’re finally fed up with the city’s dereliction of duty.
Residents wrote a cri de coeur earlier this week. Now business owners have raised their voices about the need for law enforcement, including black business owners who can’t believe the city cut them loose for this long:
Now Frazier is sending a distress call along with other Black business owners whose shops and restaurants have been cut off from the outside world by concrete barricades guarded by civilian gatekeepers surrounding 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. As violence disrupts the once-peaceful memorial where Floyd died during an encounter with Minneapolis police, the business owners said they felt abandoned by a city that has failed to protect their safety and livelihoods.
“Last year when it first started, it was all about George [Floyd]. People came from all over the world,” Frazier said. “We didn’t know when it was closed that it would be closed this long. … And when everybody in town found out that it was locked down like this … nobody wanted to come here and risk this stuff, and I don’t blame them.”
City Council Member Alondra Cano pushed for reopening the intersection before the first snowfall.
“I get to hear from all the people no one wants to listen to,” she said. “I get to hear from the Black elderly woman who has to sleep in her bathtub so she can avoid being shot at night. I get to hear from the other Black elderly woman who has chronic pain and can’t access the bus and therefore can’t go grocery shopping, and I get to hear from the residents who text me when there’s bullets zinging by their faces in the middle of the day as they’re gardening.”
Allowing this autonomous zone to continue operating seems like the height of elitist paternalism, in other words. Now that the Star Tribune is making that elitist paternalism obvious, the city has finally committed to taking action … at some point. Police chief Medaria Arradondo pledged late yesterday to bring law enforcement back to George Floyd Square, but with an assist from the FBI:
The Minneapolis police chief vowed Wednesday to restore safety in and around the closed-off intersection where protesters gather to memorialize George Floyd’s death.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo gave no timeline for the changes, though he said federal agents will help fight crime and monitor the area at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, which has fallen under increased gun violence. …
Arradondo said at a news conference that law enforcement will put an end to the criminal activity there.
“We cannot allow groups of individuals to feel that they’re emboldened,” Arradondo said. “They have to be held accountable. Period. … Yes, I’m putting them on notice. Enough’s enough.”
The announcement was met with mistrust from some at the square who had recently put out a plea for help, saying they are hesitant to believe change will come.
Who can blame them? The city allowed the intersection to remain blocked off for well night unto a year now, despite complaints such as those delivered constantly to Cano. They had been told that the city wouldn’t make any changes until after the trials of the police officers involved in the Floyd incident, the latter of which doesn’t even start until August. While Arradondo said yesterday that he “refuse[s] to abdicate one block” of the city to anarchists, the city council has been up until now very willing indeed to abdicate that city block to the criminals and radicals.
Why not take it down now? No time like the present, right? Er …
Mayor Jacob Frey said in an interview that he is aligned with the chief about the need to evaluate the timeline for reopening the intersection. Before that can happen, Frey said, they must ensure safety for public works staff coming in to remove the barricades as well as figure out a way to memorialize Floyd in an ongoing fashion.
“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.
“Sacred ground”? Good grief. Given the speed and alacrity of the Twin Cities in its road maintenance, it might be five years or more before this “sacred ground” and its surrounding neighborhood is allowed to integrate itself back into the city of Minneapolis. The bureaucratic and political inertia on display here provides one reason why the city never should have ceded the autonomous zone in the first place, especially with city support. This deeply unserious city government has completely abdicated its responsibilities in favor of woke performance art — performances which hurt the very people it’s supposed to impress the most.
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