Memorial caretaker Jeanelle Austin speaks during presser

“No Justice, No Street” – Community Makes Demands, Eviction of George Floyd Memorial Square Delayed

Minneapolis, MN – Organizers at the George Floyd Memorial Square declared their intent to defend the square from planned eviction and revealed their “justice resolution” with 24 demands during a Saturday press conference.

The presser came a day after a surprise announcement by the city that said they’ve delayed their plan for a phased re-opening of 38th Street, which was scheduled for the week of August 17.

City officials have been pushing to open up the ‘sacred space’ to vehicular traffic. In turn, the community at and around 38th Street and Chicago Avenue has been defensively preparing for the violence the police may bring to the defenders of the occupied space.

The George Floyd Memorial Square extends for a four block radius and contains the vigil site where Floyd was murdered by police on Memorial Day. The square, in the heart of south side Minneapolis, has become a place of international grieving for the last 75+ days and has seen hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Unicorn Riot filmed the full press conference and spoke with two of the organizers from Meet on the Streets afterwards:

Alicia D. Smith opened up the presser and handed the bullhorn to Pastor Carmen Means, the Executive Director of Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization (CANDO).

We live in a land that is trying to make us chose between safety and justice.” — Carmen Means

Means led by acknowledging the recent increase in gun violence in the community which is leading to the “cries” heard “from fellow neighbors” that want their “streets returned back to safety” and said that defending the memorial space does not mean ignoring those concerns.

Means called on city officials to “tap into [their] humanity” and “detach” themselves from the system that continues perpetrating white supremacy by wanting the streets opened before any justice is had.

Pastor Carmen Means speaks about defending 38th St. and the Justice Resolution put forth
Pastor Carmen Means speaks about defending 38th St. and the Justice Resolution put forth

She said the city needs to stop making the community chose “between safety and justice” and to take responsibility for being the “gasoline on the fire” during the George Floyd uprising.

City of Minneapolis, we need you to own your part, that you struck the match. You are the arson in our community. You are the gasoline on the fire that furthers the harms that keep us up at night.” — Carmen Means

Means spoke about the trauma that the community is enduring and the need for grieving to still happen in the sacred space and said that plans to re-open would harm the community.

The healing can only start when the bleeding ends. The threat of re-opening, the exchange for safety, is a re-injury.” — Carmen Means

Jeanelle Austin, a primary caretaker at the George Floyd Memorial Square, reminded everyone that “the city killed a man and that is why we are all here.” She said the art was protest art, resistance art, and that the space is not a museum.

A large circular garden with a fist and a red black and green flag on top sit in the middle of the intersection of 38th and Chicago
A large circular garden with a fist and a red black and green flag on top sit in the middle of the intersection of 38th and Chicago

Austin spoke about being a caretaker, cleaning up the space daily and caring for each memento that is left, as well as caring for the humans coming to grieve.

We are taking care of your offerings and they are precious to us.” — Jeanelle Austin

The making of the “justice resolution” with 24 demands was a community effort which Austin said the organizers “transcribed” rather than writing it themselves.

High school teacher Marcia Howard said that the demands in the resolution were made from continued conversations with a large number of community members.

Marsha Howard, high school teacher and organizer with Meet on the Streets, speaks during presser
Marcia Howard, high school teacher and organizer with Meet on the Streets, speaks during presser

Howard said the gunshots and fireworks after the uprising was part of “a campaign” to push away the people standing in solidarity with the movement and was “no different than during the Reconstruction, during Civil Rights“.

I’m here for the safety of my community and the pursuit of justice but I’m not willing to trade one for the other.” — Marcia Howard

Members of Meet on the Streets, who held the press conference had met with the mayor and city council members Andrea Jenkins and Alondra Cano last Wednesday, August 12. During the presser, Howard said they presented the demands at the meeting and resolution 24, staying in the streets until the trial of the officers who killed George Floyd concludes, was given “a hard no” by Mayor Jacob Frey.

You want some road? We need some justice.” — Marcia Howard

We were live at the end of Saturday’s press conference and we took a tour of the memorial space that has been blocked off for nearly three months. See the video below:

The resolutions include recalling Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, firing top officials at the BCA, providing accountability for past killings, investigations into police and a litany of demands for resource allocation into the community.

The demands include a total tallied amount of cost at $155 million over 10 years. The 2020 budget for Minneapolis Police is $193 million.

It is a collection of needs and wants from this community saying these are the things that we need in order to move forward to heal.” — Alicia D. Smith

Alicia D. Smith said that the amount of $155 million is “really not a lot of money when we’re talking about the oppression and systematic racism that has kept this community down from the beginning.

Noting that councilors Cano and Jenkins along with the current mayor were voted into office under the guise of their progressive politics, she said that the voters “can see that their elected leaders no longer regard them and in fact have said that, you are no longer important“.

Smith said they are only pushing their own agenda and stressed the importance of the community to “groom our next elected officials that know the agenda of the actual people.

Read the full resolution below:

George Floyd Memorial Square Justice Resolution with Addendum
Defenders of 38th St. with No Justice No Street sign
Attendees of the press conference held “No Justice = No Street” signs

After hearing the demands given to them last Wednesday and delaying their plan to re-open 38th St., the city released their announcement of delay while applauding themselves for placing the concrete barricades on the streets surrounding the memorial and a variety of “efforts currently underway” working “toward longer term investments in racial justice“.

Announcement from the City of Minneapolis about delaying the re-opening of 38th Street

Minneapolis city officials said they are making another update this coming Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

The George Floyd Memorial is first and foremost a place of protest, not commissioned by the City but by the people against the City” — Residents

Meanwhile, community members are organizing to keep the space and having daily events, like today’s ‘Sit-In at the George Floyd Memorial’.

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