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Minneapolis begins process of re-opening 'George Floyd Square' to traffic

George Floyd Square
Posted at 3:16 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 15:16:17-04

On Thursday, officials in Minneapolis began the process of reopening the city block where George Floyd died in police custody last May to traffic.

While members of Minneapolis Public Works were able to remove barriers surrounding the square and clear out some of the artwork, protesters arrived in the area Thursday morning, impeding the process. As of 3 p.m. ET, traffic is not flowing through the intersection.

The intersection of 38th St. and Chicago Ave. in Minneapolis has been closed to traffic since last summer when Floyd was murdered in police custody by then-Officer Derek Chauvin.

Since the intersection's closure, the space has been reclaimed as a haven for mourners, protesters and artists who have flocked to the area bearing flowers, gifts and other offerings. It's become informally known in the area as "George Floyd Square."

According to WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, officials with Minneapolis Public Works arrived at 4:30 a.m. local time to begin clearing out the intersection. Officials noted that crews took "great care to preserve artwork and artifacts."

However, KARE-TV in Minneapolis reports that crews were forced to stop work just before 6 a.m. local time after a crowd of protesters gathered.

In a press conference on Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey confirmed that while the city still hopes to open the area to traffic, he said it will likely take "several days." He declined to give a specific timeline for the project.

"It will take several days; we recognize there is still pain," Frey said.

A spokesperson for the Agape Movement — an organization that works with the city to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement — said the group has been negotiating with the mayor's office and other city officials regarding George Floyd square.

"We wanted to make the statement that the community can open this up... the community should open this up," Floyd said. "They (the city) just wanted to add traffic so they can open up, and we can begin to move to a new normal, to build this community up the way it's supposed to be. Did we expect pushback? Yeah, we expected that."

KSTP-TV reports that several memorial items in the area, including a large sculpture of a fist, will remain in place.