Activists who have taken up Minneapolis’ George Floyd Square, which grew to become an "autonomous zone," say they will not leave the area until officials agree to comply with their list of two-dozen demands.
The group of protesters who have taken up an area surrounding the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue – now known as George Floyd Square – wrote on Twitter late Wednesday that they will continue to hold the zone until all 24 of their demands are met.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020 after a White Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee against Floyd’s neck for approximately nine-and-a-half minutes – as Floyd lie handcuffed and face-down on the pavement and despite his repeated shouts that he could not breathe.
On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces decades behind bars at his sentencing, which is scheduled for approximately eight weeks from today.
George Floyd Square has been closed since late May, as the corner became a makeshift memorial to Floyd and a space for community healing. City leaders said in February that the intersection, which has been blocked by barricades since Floyd’s death, would reopen after Chauvin’s trial.
On Wednesday, community members behind a Twitter page identified as representing George Floyd Square shared a statement calling for the barricades to remain through the conclusion of the August trial for the three other Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death.
"The current state of the intersection known as George Floyd Square is contributing to the peace and safety of the surrounding neighborhoods," the statement reads, in part. "Amid ongoing threats of White Supremacist violence, in the absence of justice, the barricades and community structures at 38th and Chicago should remain through the trial of all four officers. It’s problematic to misconstrue police brutality as progress toward racial healing."
In announcing the decision in February to reopen the intersection at the conclusion of Chauvin’s trial, Mayor Jacob Frey said the barricades that had once been used to protect people and art were instead being used to hide illicit activity. He said the area could not be an autonomous zone, where police were prevented from entering.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at the time that neighbors were suffering.
"I cannot allow that to happen," Arradondo said. "Our men and women will continue to show up and respond and be the guardians of that community when they call us for help."
A spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department denied to Fox News the existence of an autonomous zone in September 2020, but said at the time that crowds had interrupted police and medical responders.
In one instance in August 2020, police took 14 minutes to respond to a man who was attacked down the street from the autonomous zone during an attempted robbery, KSTP-TV reported.
In March of this year, one person was fatally shot in the area of the memorial site, according to local affiliate FOX 9.
Police received a 911 call on March 6 about two people who were shot at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The callers reportedly told officers they would bring the victim to the memorial’s perimeter, but officers arrived and learned the wounded person had already been taken to a hospital.
The victim, a man in his 30s, could not be saved, according to the report. Police could not immediately locate the second victim, whether at the hospital or at the scene, where police said they experienced "interference" from people there, FOX 9 reported.
Soon after, NewsNation correspondent Brian Entin was approached and threatened by two people from the autonomous zone, with one of the people telling him he was going to "be in bad situation in a second."
"You need to get out of here," the person told Entin in video posted online. "I don’t give a f--- who you are. You’ve been called out for who you are. You need to get in your car and go."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report as did The Associated Press.
Stephanie Pagones is a Digital Reporter for FOX Business and Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @steph_pagones.
Author: Stephanie Pagones