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Sun Mar 14, 2021, 08:47 PM

In Minneapolis, business owners in George Floyd Square plead for safety

Two women had to hit the sidewalk as gunshots popped off during the day outside Finish Touch Boutique, a store near the south barricade of George Floyd Square, shop owner Willie Frazier said. Frazier's car was stolen from the square recently, too, he said, and it later turned up at the impound lot with the hood smashed.

Now Frazier is sending a distress call along with other Black business owners whose shops and restaurants have been cut off from the outside world by concrete barricades guarded by civilian gatekeepers surrounding 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. As violence disrupts the once-peaceful memorial where Floyd died during an encounter with Minneapolis police, the business owners said they felt abandoned by a city that has failed to protect their safety and livelihoods.

"Last year when it first started, it was all about George [Floyd]. People came from all over the world," Frazier said. "We didn't know when it was closed that it would be closed this long. And when everybody in town found out that it was locked down like this nobody wanted to come here and risk this stuff, and I don't blame them."


After bystander video of then-police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck went viral, the city installed concrete barriers to prevent cars from colliding with mourners. The area evolved into a protest zone, and committed activists have guarded the barricades ever since while taking care of the Floyd memorial in front of the Cup Foods convenience store.


Police can and sometimes do access the square, but protesters there do not welcome them. Agape, a peacekeeping force whose staff includes ex-gang members from the neighborhood, is on contract with the city to keep watch over the area. On March 6, two people were shot there, and 30-year-old Imez Wright, a mentor for Black youth in St. Paul, was killed.



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