MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin comes at a time when much of Minneapolis is on edge, after a summer of unrest, and one part of the city has been significantly transformed.
It’s been called George Floyd Square — a memorial site in South Minneapolis that was created at the corner where Floyd died. Community members set up makeshift barricades to block traffic.
The city eventually replaced them with concrete barriers. While they have pledged to reopen the intersection following the trial, some activists have taken over the square declaring it an “autonomous zone.”
It’s also been a hotbed for violent crime in recent months — and activists aren’t letting police inside.
Earlier this week on NewsNation, correspondent Brian Entin went to the outskirts of George Floyd Square, where he was confronted and threatened by two people inside the zone. It’s a video that has since gone viral.
“We tried to respectfully get video-but left after two people confronted us near the barricades. Later learned many protesters don’t even feel comfortable there,” Entin said on Twitter.
The residents and activists who serve as unofficial leaders and organizers of George Floyd Square say they won’t step aside unless the city meets their list of 24 demands. Among them: recall the county prosecutor, fire the head of the state’s criminal investigative agency, and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on programs to create jobs, combat racism and support affordable housing. They also are demanding that the square remain closed until the trials scheduled for August of the other three officers charged in Floyd’s death.
Since the city asserted it would reopen the square after Chauvin’s trial, the caretakers of the space have declined to talk in detail about negotiations to reopen it. Jeanelle Austin, a racial justice leadership coach and a lead caretaker of the memorial area, said the demands that fall within the city’s control aren’t unreasonable.