Minneapolis Dismantles Barriers Around George Floyd Square To Open Intersection

(Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Minneapolis is finally attempting to reopen George Floyd Square, more than a year after George Floyd was killed at the hands of a former Minneapolis Police officer, The New York Times reported.

Crews dismantling the barriers Thursday in order to reopen the area were working with community members to try and preserve artwork and other items from the memorial — such as the sculpture of a raised fist — city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie told The New York Times.

McKenzie also told the outlet the city of Minneapolis had long-term plans for a Floyd memorial.

“We certainly acknowledge this intersection will never return to normal, but we’ve heard from residents and businesses that really need to reconnect their neighborhood,” McKenzie told the Times. Removing the barriers would once again allow vehicle traffic to pass through the area, McKenzie continued. (RELATED: George Floyd Square Organizer Announces That They Are Not Moving)

Floyd was killed in May 2020 by then-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. Chauvin has since been convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The intersection where Floyd was killed became a memorial site and popular protest location in the immediate aftermath of his death, and the city erected barriers around the four-block area to protect visitors. George Floyd Square took on anarchist tones over time as a group of individuals attempted to set up a kind of autonomous zone that prevented police from entering the area. Signs placed in the area reportedly called it “the free state of George Floyd.”

The autonomous zone has led to a spike in gun violence, the Times reported. Shooting victims shot within the square have reportedly had to be dragged or carried to ambulances on the outside because of the barricades. Dozens of shots rang out near George Floyd Square on the anniversary of Floyd’s death, which left one person injured.

The rise in crime has been cited by community members and activists as one of the main reasons the barriers must come down, according to The New York Times.

Other activists protested the removal of the barricades. One activist screamed, “No justice, no streets!” as city officials carried out their work, The New York Times reported.