The city of Minneapolis on Thursday began reopening the intersection where George Floyd died a year ago and has since become a memorial to the African-American whose death sparked a wave of violent protests against racism and police brutality in the United States.
Before dawn, city employees began removing concrete barriers blocking access to the location where Floyd suffocated to death from the knee of a white police officer on May 25, 2020.
The workers installed panels to create a roundabout around the raised fist statue that was located in the center of the renamed “George Floyd Square.”
For more than a year activists occupied the place with the demand that it be reopened only when the police reform their procedures. On Thursday morning, members of a local neighborhood association were there to defuse the tension while the work was carried out.
The site became a symbol of the fractures caused by racism and the oppression of black citizens in the United States and features numerous murals, a garden and other facilities. But it is also a dangerous place where the police are not welcome.
Shootings are frequent, especially at night, and have caused a dozen deaths and injuries in the area, according to authorities.
The police are not involved in the operation to reopen the intersection.
And the city “is busy preserving art and memorabilia” there, said Council Member Sarah McKenzie.
The authorities wanted to reopen the traffic in that place, but they waited until the end of the trial of the now ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April for Floyd’s death.
To help restore the area, Floyd’s family promised to contribute $ 500,000 of the $ 27 million he will receive from the city in compensation.