Business owners who work near the intersection that has become known as George Floyd Square say they need help because the area has become a haven for crime where gunshots can be heard frequently and a man was killed just last weekend. Today the Star Tribune reports on a black business owner who thinks enough is enough:
Two women had to hit the sidewalk as gunshots popped off during the day outside Finish Touch Boutique, a store near the south barricade of George Floyd Square, shop owner Willie Frazier said. Frazier’s car was stolen from the square recently, too, he said, and it later turned up at the impound lot with the hood smashed.
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.”…
“We just need these streets to open, we need police in this area,” said Just Turkey owner Sam Willis Jr. “This is like Mexico in the United States. Thirty-seventh Street is the United States. You come out here, it’s like Mexico. So a person can commit a crime on 37th Street, and if they run over here, the police are not going to come. They park stolen cars here.”
CNN published a very similar story Sunday highlighting residents in the area who are tired of the crime in this police no-go zone:
One neighbor, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said, “There are nights it sounds like a war zone here.”
Another sent a video to CNN from Friday night to prove it. For several minutes, you could hear a barrage of bullets being fired in rapid succession.
“I’m hearing overwhelmingly from community members who, quite frankly, are feeling hostage over there at the situation. And we cannot allow for the violence to continue to happen,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said during a news conference.
Feeling like hostages may sound like an overstatement but CNN notes the border of George Floyd Square includes a guard shack:
First you see the barricades — traffic cones, graffitied concrete Jersey barriers and a metal frame that resembles a bike rack.
Then there’s the makeshift guard shack, with so-called community “Guardians” inside, regulating the comings and goings on the streets.
The city of Minneapolis has said it will reopen the square after the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin is over. But it’s ridiculous that the city has decided to tolerate a semi-autonomous zone where gunshots are common and a person was killed a week ago. This is the same mistake they made in Seattle and in Atlanta. Why do we keep allowing this to happen when the results are always the same (people getting killed).
Here’s a video shot by a reporter who visited the barricades last week. How is this allowed to happen in an American city?