White people who want to enter the area where George Floyd died last May in Minneapolis, now known as George Floyd Square, are being given special instructions to show reverence and respect.
The area, which comprises the intersection of E. 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where a bystander took the infamous video of former police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the pavement with his knee, became a memorial and was renamed not long after his death last year.
Today, a sign posted by the memorial area welcomes people to “A Sacred Space for Community, Public Grief, and Protest,” as noted by Fox News’ national correspondent Matt Finn.
White people about to enter George Floyd square are given special instructions pic.twitter.com/3gzpwqUmtS
— Matt Finn (@MattFinnFNC) April 21, 2021
While encouraging all to “honor the space as a place to connect and grieve as caring humans,” there are instructions “for White people in particular.”
— “Decenter yourself and come to listen, learn, mourn, and witness. Remember you are here to support, not be supported.”
— Be mindful of whether your volume, pace, and movements are supporting or undermining your effort to decenter yourself.”
— “Seek to contribute to the energy of the space, rather than drain it. Bring your own processing to other white folks so that you will not harm BIPOC.” (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)
The instructions also discourage whites from taking photos of others without their consent and asks them to “consider” if they want to post any, presumably on social media. They are also asked to “engage rather than escalate, so that it can be a learning moment rather than a disruption.”
But the area has also been known as an “autonomous zone” since last year, with one sign declaring, “You Are Now Entering the Free State of George Floyd,” similar to a zone established in Seattle in June 2020. And like that so-called “CHOP” zone in the Emerald City, crime and gun violence have skyrocketed there.
Minneapolis city officials erected barricades last year to protect people who were demonstrating in the zone from cars and other traffic, but they have been turned into barriers to form the autonomous zone and have been taken over by armed residents who have declared that police are not welcome there. Significant rises in gun violence and drug dealing have harmed local businesses within the zone, according to Fox News.
The rise in criminal activity has lead local activists, business owners and city officials to come together to figure out how to balance the square’s importance as a memorial while making it safer for residents.
“This is not an autonomous zone, and it will not and cannot be an autonomous zone,” Mayor Jacob Frey declared in a February press conference.
Last month, reports noted that the FBI would begin monitoring the area as the city’s police chief put protesters within the zone on notice as local residents and business owners have repeatedly pleaded for help from authorities.
“The current situation at 38th and Chicago is unacceptable and will not and must not be tolerated,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told reporters, adding that the FBI Minneapolis Field Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), St. Paul Field Division had all offered the department assistance.
Police resources were pulled from the area late last year as city council members moved to defund the department. The result was a court filing by the National Police Association in February to force the council to abide by the city’s charter and provide police protection for the square, Fox News reported separately.
“Violence in any part of our city must be addressed and those contributing to the harm of our neighborhoods have to be held accountable,” Arradondo added.
“We are going to restore peace and safety to that neighborhood, and we’re going to do it collectively with the help and a force multiplier by our partners. And we will not tolerate that any longer, and that intersection must be reopened.”
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