Roommates, the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota will forever be known in history. A little over a year ago, the world virtually witnessed the death of George Floyd in that same area. The intersection promptly became a memorial for George, but also a sacred gathering and mourning space for the community. As of Thursday, the city of Minneapolis began removing parts of the memorial in order to “reopen the area to traffic,” according to CNN reports.
“Barricades have been removed so that ultimately (the intersection) will be reconnected into the neighborhood and traffic will be able to resume,” city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie reportedly told CNN. This intersection will never go back to ‘normal.’ This city is really doing everything it can with the community to preserve as many art pieces as possible.”
City workers were seen removing cement barricades placed around the memorial on Thursday morning. However, Sarah told CNN that not all the artifacts and art will be removed. For example, the fist sculpture will remain in the center of the intersection. Sarah also shared that the removal is a “community-led effort” with the expectation that the city will create a “permanent memorial.” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz also explained at a Thursday press conference that the removal was planned.
“There’s conversations happening in and around that area with a respectfulness to the nature of the spot where George Floyd died, but also understanding that public infrastructure needs to be opened back up in a way that works,” Governor Tim said.
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Still, many community activists were not feeling the memorial’s removal because within the same day the intersection was once again blocked. During a community press conference on Thursday, a local activist named Jeanelle Austin said the city did not notify them about the removal, despite saying “they would let [them] know.”
“All we asked for was some restorative justice that the trauma the community endured, that the harm would be repaired prior to the reopening of the streets,” Jeanelle said. “But instead, we were met with more trauma…”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also spoke out on Thursday and reassured the community during a press conference that the intersection won’t immediately open.
“We recognize that a full reconnection is not going to happen at once,” he said. “I acknowledge that it will be a bit touch and go and difficult over the next several days.”
In a joint statement obtained by CNN, the mayor clarified that the square was cleared early Thursday morning to “avoid a confrontation with the activists who have controlled the intersection.”
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