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Minneapolis residents were caught by surprise on Thursday as crews began removing memorials and barricades at the intersection where George Floyd died.
LOCAL RESIDENT: “I got up to do my morning yoga and was changing the laundry and I looked out the window and I saw everything, and I was just like ‘Uh, Andy’ to my husband, I’m like ‘I think you need to get up.’ He went out there. I called him, I said, ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘They’re tearing it all down.’”
REPORTER: “Was that surprising?”
LOCAL RESIDENT: “Yeah, no one knew.”
Some activists oppose the reopening of the intersection, a kind of autonomous zone - slash- makeshift memorial in the middle of the city known as George Floyd Square. The intersection has been closed to traffic since the murder of George Floyd in late May of last year.
LOCAL RESIDENT, MONA: “I totally get this needs to be opened back up. I understand that. But it's about the way to go about things, you know? The city came in the most disrespectful manner and picked everything up at 4am."
Mayor Jacob Frey previously said the city would reopen the intersection to vehicles after the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white policeman who was captured on camera kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.
On Thursday Mayor Frey repeated his promise to preserve a permanent memorial to Floyd.
“This intersection will forever be changed. And we need to be investing in that transformation. Investing directly in racial justice and healing, everything from Black-owned business to Black-owned property on that corridor. Facade improvements. Creativity directly from the Black community, art and of course the memorial itself. We'll be putting money where our mouth is.”
A jury found Chauvin guilty of murder in April, leading to impromptu street parties at the intersection.
Activists have vowed to continue occupying the square until a number of demands are met including reopening investigations into other local Black men killed by police.
Some local residents and businesses support the activists, while others want traffic flow to return to normal.