As violent crime soars in Minneapolis, business owners, residents, police, and politicians want the city to eliminate the anarchic George Floyd Autonomous Zone and restore law and order, the Star Tribune reported.
Located at the intersection of E. 38th St. and Chicago Ave., the George Floyd Autonomous Zone is a barricaded area that law enforcement officers “are literally barricaded from going in,” according to National Police Association spokeswoman Retired Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith.
The media and Black Lives Matter activists call the area George Floyd Square.
Initially, after George Floyd’s death, protesters erected barricades around the intersection.
Then, the Minneapolis Public Works Department installed 12 concrete barriers to prevent traffic from interfering with protesters and activists from fighting with police.
City Council Member Alondra Cano, a Democrat, said Minneapolis should have removed the barricades and opened the intersection for regular commerce before last winter.
Cano said her constituents, “the people no one wants to listen to,” suffer from increased violence because of the lack of policing.
“I get to hear from the black elderly woman who has to sleep in her bathtub so she can avoid being shot at night,” she said.
“I get to hear from the other black elderly woman who has chronic pain and can’t access the bus and therefore can’t go grocery shopping, and I get to hear from the residents who text me when there’s bullets zinging by their faces in the middle of the day as they’re gardening,” she continued.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the George Floyd Autonomous Zone is “unacceptable” and that the “intersection must be reopened,” according to Fox News.
Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk said the FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshals Service “will play a role in this initiative” to battle crime and prepare the area for reopening.
Pastor Curtis Farrar, who runs Worldwide Outreach for Christ, which resides at the intersection, said the area suffered from violence before the George Floyd Autonomous Zone was created.
“This was Bloods territory,” said Farrar, referring to the street gang. “A lot of the gangs are right over there now. A lot of people that go to this church used to be in that gang, drug dealers and all of that.”
At 38th and Chicago in 2019, there were reportedly seven shootings with 33 total bullets fired.
At the George Floyd Autonomous Zone in 2020, there were reportedly 185 shootings with more than 700 total bullets fired, a more than 2,000 percent increase.
Dwight Alexander, 58, who owns a restaurant, Smoke in the Pit, in the police no-go zone, said the anarchy has made him “afraid,” “frustrated,” and “mentally ill.”
“I have to set my mind every day to come up here and try and make a way for my family, and [the city] took away my rights, they took away my finances,” he said. “How do you think I feel? Put yourself in my shoes or my family’s shoes.”
Alexander protested the barricades last year by painting a mural on his restaurant that said, “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers”—a quote from the film Black Panther.