Crews and city officials in Minneapolis began dismantling barriers around George Floyd Square on Thursday morning (June 3) in an effort to reopen the area to traffic. The intersection has become a gathering place for demonstrations and is home to flowers, artwork and memorials honoring George Floyd.
According to The New York Times, the city is working with community groups to preserve the memorials while reopening the intersection for cars. The Star Tribune reports that officials are working with Agape, a local organization that acts as a bridge between the community and law enforcement, which will oversee the cleanup process.
Some of the preservation tactics have included setting up new barriers around artwork and memorials dedicated to Floyd. A video that circulated social media on Thursday showed city workers installing new traffic signs around a sculpture of a raised fist.
Other videos showed residents gathering at the square and planting flowers around the memorials while city workers deconstructed the barriers. NYT notes that some activists chanted “No justice, no streets!” and said that city officials failed to let the community know about the reopening ahead of time.
“Never forget, [the] community didn’t pick the 38th & Chicago site,” one person tweeted on Thursday. “Officers Derek Chauvin, Thoa, Lane and Kueng, Chief Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey picked 38th and Chicago when they lynched George Floyd and lied about it to the general public. Long Live George Floyd Square.”
According to The Hill, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he wanted to start a “phased reopening” of the intersection. City spokesperson Sarah McKenzie told NYT that Minneapolis officials are looking into installing a permanent memorial at the square once it’s fully reopened.
“We certainly acknowledge this intersection will never return to normal, but we’ve heard from residents and businesses that really need to reconnect [with] their neighborhood,” she said.
See photos and videos of the square on Twitter below.