Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis council members continue negotiations to reopen so-called ‘autonomous zone’
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, along with City Council members Andrea Jenkins and Alondra Cano, sent a letter to three people who oversee George Floyd Square and a surrounding four-square block area sometimes referred to as the "autonomous zone" from 37th to 39th Streets South and Columbus and Elliott Avenues East.
That area has been blocked off by Minnesota Department of Transportation cement barricades since the first week of June following the death of George Floyd, but local businesses in that area have recently pushed Frey for a resolution to reopen the streets immediately.
The letter, which is addressed to Jeanelle Austin, Marica Howard and Madi Ramirez-Tentiger of Meet on the Street, lists several steps the city government has taken to address racial injustice and create a permanent memorial for George Floyd, such as committing more than $400,000 in funds to the area, establishing 38th and Chicago as one of seven "cultural districts" around the city.
Frey, Jenkins and Cano also urge the organizers to consider the harm done to businesses in the area and the decreased accessiblity for local residents and city services while the street is blocked off.
"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," the letter states. "Many residents, while supportive of creating space for the memorial, would also like to see the neighborhoods reconnected. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide city services to all of our residents and businesses; including clearing snow, removing solid waste and recycling, and ensuring emergency vehicle access."
Dan, whose last name KSTP has agreed not to use, owns and operates Mill City Auto Garage on 38th Street and was the victim of an attempted robbery and violent assault at his auto shop in August, where he sustained a concussion, multiple stitches and fractured cheekbones.
"We, and I mean all of the businesses here, we just want it to reopen and to maintain the memorial," said Dan. "We understand, but after five months of a closed-off street I can tell you my business is down 70% and I am not sure how much longer I can hang on."
Federal court documents also revealed an investigation by the ATF, with cooperation from the Minneapolis Police Department, into an alleged illegal gun-running scheme which has connections to the so-called "autonomous zone" and surrounding neighborhoods.
No one has yet to be arrested and charged with illegal gun sales, but court documents show the government believes there is one suspect who has been operating and selling guns inside the zone. When a search warrant was executed for that person’s car and house, the court filings indicate a minimum of 11 guns were confiscated along with multiple magazine rounds and body armor.
Mayor Frey’s Office, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on the letter.
More from KSTP: