George Floyd Square didn’t stay open for long

When Ed Morrissey covered the reopening of George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Thursday, he closed by predicting that it would be blocked off again by the end of the weekend. It turns out he was being a bit generous. The “reopening” didn’t even last one day. It took the police roughly four hours to remove the concrete barriers that had blocked the intersection for more than a year and traffic once again began flowing in a mostly normal fashion. But that only continued for a couple of hours. Then the same people who have been “occupying the autonomous zone” showed up and put up their own makeshift barriers, bringing everything to a halt once again. Mayor Jacob Frey was nowhere to be seen, despite having previously spoken about the importance of preserving a memorial at the site, but also stressing the need to reopen that neighborhood for the normal ebb and flow of commerce. (Associated Press)

Crews on Thursday removed the concrete barriers that blocked traffic at a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to George Floyd was assembled after his death last year, but community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers and resumed chanting the name of the Black man whose killing galvanized the racial justice movement.

It took the crews less than four hours to clear the barriers, artwork, flowers and other items from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd was killed, informally known as George Floyd Square. City spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said a fist sculpture, which stands several feet tall, will remain. The city said the effort was led by a community group known as Agape and several city departments were involved.

The intersection had been closed to traffic since Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020, but some residents and businesses expressed frustration that it had been closed for so long.

The police who had removed the barriers were gone by the time the protesters returned. That might be understandable because they had finished their work by that point, but they never came back later in the day. In other words, the city seems to have surrendered to the mob yet again.

A leader of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) showed up to give a speech. He declared, “we will not give up this space,” after calling the removal of the barriers “an attack on George Floyd’s legacy.” I’m not sure what CAIR was doing there since I don’t recall ever hearing that Floyd was a Muslim. But that’s not really the issue here.

The city government and the police have been more than patient with this situation. In some ways, they’ve brought this problem on themselves. Back when this mob first took over the square and set up an “autonomous zone,” the city not only tolerated it but brought in the concrete barriers. This no doubt created a sense of entitlement among the occupiers. So for a year, the shops and residences in that area have basically been held hostage and remained under siege.

The City Council has been getting an earful from those residents and business owners. The area being occupied is not a park or empty lot. Those are city streets and the people who live and work there, along with paying taxes, expect the city to bring the situation under control and return their lives to some semblance of normalcy. The Mayor is saying that the reopening will have to happen “in stages,” but the people currently blocking the streets clearly have no interest in even moving toward stage one.

As I said, it’s been more than a year. That has already been far too long. The Mayor needs to do his job and get this straightened out. If the occupiers can’t be reasoned with, they need to be arrested. And if the city can’t manage that then they’re going to need to find the money to buy out all of the residents and businesses that are under siege and move them to someplace safer. Of course, that would represent a complete surrender by the city, but I’m guessing that nobody would all that surprised by such a move at this point.

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