Minneapolis Reopens Intersection Where George Floyd Was Killed A crowd gathers near a gas station at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Thursday. Crews have removed concrete barriers, artwork, flowers and other items from the intersection that has been a sprawling memorial to George Floyd since his death last year. (Carlos Gonzalez /Star Tribune via AP)
Thursday, 03 June 2021 04:48 PM
The midwestern US city of Minneapolis on Thursday began reopening the intersection where George Floyd died, which became a memorial to the African American whose murder by police sparked a racial reckoning but has also been marred by violence.
City workers arrived before daybreak to remove concrete barriers blocking access to the junction where the 46-year-old suffocated under the knee of a white police officer in May last year.
They installed signs to create a roundabout encircling a statue of a huge raised fist erected in the center of what has been renamed "George Floyd Square."
For more than a year, equal rights activists have occupied the square, tying its reopening to the adoption of police reforms. A local residents association was on hand Thursday to defuse tensions as the city workers moved in.
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said that it would take more than a few days to complete the reopening.
"We have a lot of trust to rebuild and we intend to do so," he told a news conference.
The site has become a symbol of the fractures caused by racism and the oppression of Black people across the United States, and is illustrated with numerous murals, a community garden and other installations.
But it has also become a hot-spot for violence where the police are not welcome.
Shootings are frequent, especially at night, and have resulted in a dozen deaths or injuries in the area in a year, according to law enforcement.
Police are not involved in the operation to reopen the intersection, a spokesman told AFP.
And the city is "taking great care to preserve artwork and artifacts" there, added a city council representative, Sarah McKenzie.
Authorities have long wanted to reopen the intersection but had been waiting for a conclusion in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who in April was convicted of murdering Floyd.
To help the neighborhood bounce back, the Floyd family plans to invest $500,000 out of the $27 million they won in a wrongful death settlement against the city in local economic and cultural groups.