Updated: June 04, 2021 08:18 PM
Created: June 04, 2021 04:49 PM
City officials said the removal was led by the Agape Movement, a community group contracted by the city to help bridge the gap between the community.
Steve Floyd, one of the founders of the organization, says Agape will be working on community-building and health and safety services associated with the reopening of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South.
"It was Agape Movement who approached the mayor after a number of months of talking and negotiation and trying to figure out what is the best thing to do," Steve Floyd said.
After challenges with violence and emergency vehicles having a tough time accessing George Floyd Square, Steve Floyd said he wanted to work with others to preserve the space and make sure it's safe. He said city resources will help make this possible.
"It's not changing, not taking anything out. (It's) keeping it as it is and making it better," Steve Floyd said.
The Agape co-founder said the art and iconic fist sculpture would stay but the gardens would be shortened around the fist.
"Firetrucks and buses can get around, and they're going to make the fist permanent, as it is, and you can go put a base around it with all of the names around the fist," Steve Floyd said.
He said that extra space for new bump-outs, barriers and traffic signs will allow emergency vehicles, trucks and buses to get through.
"Businesses can get served, they can receive all of their products and things," Steve Floyd said.
Moving forward, he said: "They can keep doing protests, they can keep having meetings, they can keep showing movies, they can keep decorating and painting the street. ... All of these things are still there, and that's how we envision that place looking, that we keep the same, it's just that traffic can get through slowly."
Steve Floyd said Agape wants to expand and broaden the impact George Floyd Square has on the community. He said the organization wants to have a presence in nearby schools and offer mental health resources and teach financial and life skills.
And the group is pushing for police officers, or community protectors, working in and around the 38th and Chicago to be required to live in the area, too.
"We have a strategy of what to build and how to build it, and it basically goes toward what we want to do with the young people in that community," Steve Floyd said.
There are several city departments working with Agape. City officials said Agape's contract runs from June to this fall. The maximum cost is $359,000 most of which is hourly rate costs for Agape personnel.
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