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.
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.
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.
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
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“.
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’.
Unicorn Riot's George Floyd Coverage:
- George Floyd Uprising – Reporter Reflection [5 Episode Series] - Fall 2020
- Minneapolis Police Murder Handcuffed Man With Neck-Kneel - May 26, 2020
- Minneapolis Protests Police Murder of George Floyd: Day 2 - May 27, 2020
- Twin Cities Protest Death of George Floyd: Day 3 - May 28, 2020
- New Footage Reveals Moments Before George Floyd’s Death - May 30, 2020
- Minneapolis Protests Police Murder of George Floyd: Day 7 - June 1, 2020
- Owner Assaulted by Troopers While Protecting His Business - June 2, 2020
- Action at WCCO to End Media Bias Against Victims of Police Violence: Day 9 - June 3, 2020
- George Floyd Memorial Service in Minneapolis - June 4, 2020
- Rally and March to Defund MPD after George Floyd: Day 12 - June 6, 2020
- Nine Council Members Vow to Disband Minneapolis Police - June 10, 2020
- Denver Police Served Temporary Restraining Order Amid Nationwide Protest Repression - June 11, 2020
- George Floyd Uprising in Minneapolis–Saint Paul — The First Two Weeks - June 14, 2020
- “No Justice, No Street” – Community Makes Demands, Eviction of George Floyd Memorial Square Delayed - August 17, 2020
- Pretrial Begins: County Attorney Freeman Pulled from George Floyd Police Prosecutions - September 14, 2020
- Ex-Cop Charged in George Floyd Murder Out On $1M Bail - October 7, 2020
- Youth Lead March After Ex-Cop Charged in Floyd’s Murder Bailed Out - October 14, 2020