Gates and jury-rigged barriers enclose 'George Floyd Square,' a four block area from 37th to 39th Streets South and Columbus and Elliott Avenues East, that serves as a memorial in the neighborhood where Floyd died. Now a manhunt is underway in Minneapolis following the fatal shooting of a black man nearby. A BLM activist who calls herself a medic for the 'autonomous zone' told the Washington Times that she heard what sounded like "500 gunshots" Saturday night during her shift.
According to the Times, as of Sunday night, no white people were allowed access to the area by local activists. The description mirrored Seattle’s autonomous zone established last summer. Pedestrians were asked to leave, with activist guards manning the gates. The zone has been plagued by crime since last year.
Neighbors told the Times, that they tried working with protesters, and asked that traffic not be disrupted. Activists allegedly responded with threats. Residents blame gang violence, BLM activists and protests as the primary cause of the unrest and crime. They added that safety concerns have caused people to move out of the neighborhood and pointed to multiple for-sale signs and empty houses nearby. Social justice-themed yard signs are common in the area with residents struggling to reconcile their beliefs with the rise in violence and decline in quality of life. Businesses have also left the area.
The shooting suspect allegedly had an argument with the victim, opened fire and then fled the scene in a cream colored Chevrolet Suburban which may have suffered "gunshot damage."
Police spokesman John Elder said police were notified of Saturday's shooting at about 5:45 pm and were told the victim or victims had been brought out of the autonomous zone to the edge of the intersection.
According to Elder, "Officers were met with some interference at the scene." Police were notified that the victim had already been brought to a hospital, and then discovered he had died. In September 2020, Elder denied the zone existed to Fox News.
In the wake of the defunding of the Minneapolis Police Department, crime has spiked exponentially. Many are predicting more violence and destruction at the conclusion of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the death of Floyd. Residents told the Times that many of the violent activists come from out of state.
The city has spent millions of dollars turning the courthouse and city hall into impregnable fortresses and hiring new police officers. Jury selection for Chauvin's trial was slated to begin Monday but was delayed by appeals regarding the charges of the case.
City officials promised residents security in downtown Minneapolis for the duration of the trial, with the local government having spent millions of dollars on new police officers and protective barricades around the courthouse and city hall. The National Guard has also been deployed to the city.