Updated: June 03, 2021 01:40 PM
Created: June 03, 2021 05:33 AM
Crews were at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis early Thursday working to reopen the intersection to allow traffic to move through the area once more.
The intersection, informally known as George Floyd Square, has been the site of a memorial for Floyd since his death at that location more than a year ago. It had been closed to traffic since, and some city officials and community members pushed to reopen the streets due to concerns over access and public safety.
KSTP's Ashley Zilka, who is at the scene, reported dozens of city crew members were in the area. Zilka reported Bobcat equipment and attachments were in the area and could be seen moving concrete barriers, among other items.
Barricades were removed by about 7:30 a.m., roughly three hours after the process began.
Thursday, Zilka spoke with a member of the group Agape Movement, described as a community security force in the area, who said barricades were being 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.
Agape Movement is expected to hold a news conference at some point Thursday.
A city of Minneapolis spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the effort Thursday was a community-led reconnection process, led by Agape Movement.
The spokesperson said city employees supported the effort Thursday to move the barricades and to work on installing a roundabout around the memorial items.
The city is working with Floyd's family and community members on a permanent solution, the spokesperson said.
Zilka said several people in the area Thursday appeared to be initally upset but that the mood in the area began to calm as more people became aware of what was happening. People remained in the area throughout the morning, even after crews left.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano issued the following statement 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.
When asked about who makes the ultimate decision on reopening the intersection, the Minneapolis city attorney said any action would likely need the approval of elected officials, including the city council and mayor.
However, not all officials are on the same page. Last week, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked all council members about whether the intersection should reopen and only five of the 13 members were willing to answer the question.
Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates on this developing news.
#UPDATE: crews have left the area around George Floyd Square.— Ashley Zilka (@ashleyzilka) June 3, 2021
Barricades around the memorial are now gone. Community led group - Agape Movement - says they are working to reopen intersection while keeping memorial.
People are now replanting flowers and preserving art @KSTP pic.twitter.com/PbCBodBd92
#UPDATE: Crews from Minneapolis Public works are taking down barricades around George Floyd Square to reopen area to traffic.— Ashley Zilka (@ashleyzilka) June 3, 2021
BUT community group in charge of this says they did not alert mayor or city council about what they would be doing here this morning. @KSTP pic.twitter.com/tqJrSG15Fx
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