With barriers removed at George Floyd Square, differing community viewpoints arise | KSTP.com

With barriers removed at George Floyd Square, differing community viewpoints arise

Jaylani Hussein, an executive of CAIR-MN, spoke Thursday. Photo: KSTP-TV. Jaylani Hussein, an executive of CAIR-MN, spoke Thursday.

Updated: June 03, 2021 01:24 PM
Created: June 03, 2021 09:45 AM

Thursday, city crews and members of a community-led group worked to remove barriers at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis.

In an unannounced move, crews reopened the area to traffic.

A member of the group Agape Movement, described as a community security force in the area, said barricades were removed for security reasons as well as to promote healing in the community. The group member also said the memorial items in the area, such as the fist sculpture and flowers, will remain.

Members of Agape Movement said during a news conference Thursday that the group was part of negotiations with the city and law enforcement members.

"We wanted to make the statement that the community can open this up, that the community should open it up" Steve Floyd said. "We thought that this had naturally progressed itself to reopening."

Floyd said negotiations included discussions about allowing traffic to move through the area once more. 

"We want the square to remain as it is ... they just wanted to add through traffic so they could open up and then we could begin to make this a new normal and build this community the way that it's supposed to be."

Members of Agape Movement said the removal of barriers in the area was the first phase in a three-phase plan. A new design for the area is expected in next phases, the group said.

However, other community members and CAIR-MN leaders decried the reopening of the intersection Thursday.

"For the last 12 months, I have served as one of many volunteer caretakers of George Floyd Square. All I could do was weep when I saw how the city worked to tear down the one sacred space we have to memorialize those who have been killed by police," Jeanelle Austin, a south Minneapolis resident and volunteer, said in a statement. "There are no words for the pain I feel. The fight for justice continues."

Jaylani Hussein, an executive of CAIR-MN said, "George Floyd square should be respected and the demands by the community for police accountability has yet to be met. The case for the remaining officers is pending and GFS (George Floyd Square) is and will always be a national memorial for victims of police violence."

The full news conference can be viewed here. Please be advised of some profane language.

Meanwhile, a city of Minneapolis spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the effort Thursday was a community-led reconnection process.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano issued the following statement on the process later Thursday morning: 

The city's three guiding principles for the reconnection of 38th and Chicago have been community safety, racial healing and economic stability and development for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other communities of color.

The Agape Movement brought together community leadership to begin facilitating the phased reconnection this morning, with the city playing a supportive role. We are grateful for the partnership.

We are collectively committed to establishing a permanent memorial at the intersection, preserving the artwork, and making the area an enduring space for racial healing.

Alongside city leadership, we have met on a regular basis with community members to discuss both the short-term path toward reconnecting this area and the long-term plan for the neighborhood with sustained investments to help restore and heal the community.

The city plans to hold a press availability later today to answer questions regarding the reconnection.

City leaders held a news conference Thursday afternoon to address the reopening plans.

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates on this developing news.

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