Makeshift barriers back up after crews work again to reopen 38th and Chicago to traffic | KSTP.com

Makeshift barriers back up after crews work again to reopen 38th and Chicago to traffic

KSTP
Updated: June 08, 2021 10:19 PM
Created: June 08, 2021 05:33 AM

For the second time in less than a week, Minneapolis city crews worked to reopen the area around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue to traffic and activists have returned makeshift barriers to the area.

Minneapolis city crews, at around 4:50 a.m. Tuesday, were removing items from George Floyd Square in an attempt to reopen the intersection to traffic.

Once crews were done removing items, they left the area. 

Later Tuesday, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew reported activists had returned makeshift barriers to the streets near the intersection.

Steve Floyd, the senior advisor of Agape Movement, a community group contracted by the city to help bridge the gap between the community, said the reopening will take place in phases.

"We're not trying to put a time limit on it because the transformation, as we've learned, is better when there's time," Floyd said. "We're not trying to get in there and blow everybody's mind up, change their mind. We see the importance of the progress and we've made great progress. We're still just trying to take our time with it. We're not trying to rush it. It's happening slowly."

Last Thursday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was at 38th and Chicago as crews and a community group removed concrete barriers blocking off the square, but activists quickly moved in after and blocked off the roads again with makeshift barriers

Jay Webb, one of the memorial creators who has long been opposed to reopening, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the citizens group manning the barricades is in talks with the city on a possible compromise, which he called a "shared vision that is a win-win for all parties involved."

That would mark a major turning point, after a year of keeping the roads blocked.

Webb said they are "reaching a place of understanding" and starting to "bridge the gap."

"The emotions have really settled a lot and people are kind of coming around and realizing that we're not there to take the square away or take away any of the items," Floyd added. "I think in the beginning they had an idea that we were coming in and tearing it down like they did in Portland, Seattle, Plymouth Avenue in Ferguson and other places. That just definitely wasn't the case. It was just to come in and make it safer to traffic. Again, it's gradual and as emotions drop and as the shock leaves, it gets better."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked the Minneapolis Police Department if people who continue to put up makeshift barricades will be ticketed or charged. A spokesperson provided this statement:

"People who engage in this behavior are subject to citation however the City is working with the community and others in seeing that this is handled without law enforcement interaction. Law enforcement can be brought in but we have not been at this time."

The city of Minneapolis didn't provide a timeline for fully reopening the intersection but said it "is committed to reconnecting 38th and Chicago."

Mayor Jacob Frey provided this statement Tuesday in response to the reopening efforts:

"Our position has remained consistent that George Floyd Square must be an enduring place for racial justice and healing, with a permanent community-led memorial honoring George Floyd's legacy. City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, City Council Member Alondra Cano and I are working to ensure that significant resources from the recently-finalized plan for federal stimulus funds as well as the implementation of the 38th Street Thrive Plan continue to go toward the creation of the memorial and Black owned business and property ownership in and around the intersection.

"The City also remains committed to ensuring basic access to government services from safety and security to transit and trash collection for one of our city's historically Black corridors, which is not possible if the area is barriered off as an autonomous zone."

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


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