Cup Foods, others allege city caused ‘hardships’ with George Floyd Square barricades

Cup Foods, others allege city caused ‘hardships’ with George Floyd Square barricades

Cup Foods, others allege city caused ‘hardships’ with George Floyd Square barricades

A group of businesses residing at the south Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd was murdered allege in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that the city knowingly caused harm by barricading the surrounding streets for more than a year.

The filing claims concrete barricades erected around the intersection of 38th Street East and Chicago Avenue South caused businesses to suffer “tremendous economic hardships as well as threats and actual harm to the physical well-being of its owners and tenants.”

The plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit include Cup Foods; Menthol Tobacco, LLC and Southside Electronics — both located inside Cup Foods; NMA Investments, LLC; and 3759 Chicago Ave, LLC. All of the businesses are owned by the same family, the complaint states.

Soon after Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, barricades went up around what quickly became George Floyd Square to preserve the area as a memorial space. The plaintiffs say the move severely restricted vehicle and pedestrian traffic and impeded their ability to do business.

Minneapolis officials did not order the barriers’ removal until more than a year later, in June 2021, to the surprise and anger of community members who maintained the memorial space at George Floyd Square.

The businesses also allege the city “allowed crime to overtake the area,” citing reports that police and medics encountered hostility when responding to incidents in or near George Floyd Square and listing numerous shootings and assaults that occurred while the barricades were up.

The filing goes on to claim that Mayor Jacob Frey and other city leaders acknowledged the damage the barriers caused, citing a letter from the city to racial justice activists dated Nov. 9, 2020, that states, “The continued full closure of the street is harming local business, and some may not be able to survive much longer under the current conditions.”

In all, the plaintiff businesses claim they lost more than $1.5 million in revenue while the barriers were in place. The businesses are seeking a judgment against Frey and the city on multiple counts, including unlawful taking, negligence, creating a nuisance and violating the city charter. They also want to recoup their lost income, plus interest and legal fees.

Ally Peters, a spokeswoman for Mayor Frey, issued the following statement in response to the filing:

“We did everything possible to open the street safely amid very tenuous circumstances. When we finally did open the street, the City did so in a planned way where no one was hurt and the area remained safe for residents.”

Office of Mayor Jacob Frey

City of Minneapolis spokesman Casper Hill said the city is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Hill also pointed to $1.5 million in forgivable loans the city issued to businesses at George Floyd Square to aid in their recovery, among other initiatives.