Minneapolis moves to open George Floyd Square to traffic

Minneapolis moves to open George Floyd Square to traffic
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Minneapolis city officials and crews early Thursday began clearing portions of George Floyd Square as they plan to reopen the intersection to traffic after more than a year since the police killing that rocked the nation and sparked a wave of civil unrest. 

City spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie told The New York Times and other outlets that officials were working to open the area again, while also keeping in place different memorial artifacts that have been put up near the convenience store Cup Foods. 

The Star Tribune reported that it was clearing the area with the help of Agape, a peacekeeping force whose staff includes former gang members, to keep watch over the intersection as city officials work to reopen it to private and transit vehicles. 

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Videos and photos posted to social media by local reporters showed workers dismantling some of the barricades that had blocked off the intersection, while also installing barriers around artwork and other parts of the memorial that have been set up by community members over the past year. 

McKenzie told the Times that the city was working to preserve several artifacts at the square, including a giant sculpture of a raised fist, with video capturing city workers Thursday installing traffic signage around the art installation. 

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While city officials wish to make the square accessible to traffic once again, with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob FreyJacob FreyMinneapolis voters to decide on agency to replace police department Minnesota officials push for targeted small business grants The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Texas Dems flee to Washington MORE (D) saying he favors a “phased reopening,” city workers were met with resistance from some community members Thursday morning. 

The Times noted that some activists began yelling “No justice, no streets!” as workers dismantled barriers around the square. 

However, McKenzie told the Times that the city wants to put a long-term memorial in place at the square even once it is reopened to traffic full-time. 

“We certainly acknowledge this intersection will never return to normal, but we’ve heard from residents and businesses that really need to reconnect their neighborhood,” she said. 

The Hill has reached out to McKenzie for additional information. 

The square has become a gathering place for demonstrators and activists in the past year, with flowers, artwork and other memorials set up to honor Floyd, who died over a year ago after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old’s neck for roughly nine minutes. 

Chauvin was convicted of murdering Floyd in April and will appear in court in June for a sentencing hearing. 

Crowds gathered at George Floyd Square as the Chauvin verdict was announced, with videos showing demonstrators cheering and cars in the streets honking their horns.