A news reporter who was filming a TV segment at the entrance of the ‘autonomous zone’ at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, was confronted by two people who warned of a ‘bad situation’ if he didn’t leave.
Brian Entin, a Miami-based journalist with NewsNationNow, was reporting on Tuesday near the scene where Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was arrested by Derek Chauvin and three other police officers on May 25.
Two unidentified individuals – a man and a woman, both of whom were wearing face coverings and clad in black pants and jackets – approached from behind the barricade just feet away from Entin and his cameraperson.
‘You’re going to be in a bad situation in a second,’ the man is heard telling Entin.
Brian Entin, a Miami-based journalist with NewsNationNow, was reporting on Tuesday from George Floyd Square in Minneapolis near the scene where George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was arrested by Derek Chauvin and three other police officers on May 25. Floyd died at hospital after he was filmed on the ground while Chauvin had his knee pressed against his neck for nearly nine minutes
Two unidentified individuals – a man and a woman, both of whom were wearing face coverings and clad in black pants and jackets – approached from behind the barricade just feet away from Entin and his cameraperson
‘You’re going to be in a bad situation in a second,’ the man is heard telling Entin. ‘You need to get out of here’
The blocks-long area has been cordoned off by Black Lives Matter supporters who erected barricades. It has been unofficially known as an ‘autonomous zone’ called ‘George Floyd Square’
‘You need to get out of here,’ the man says. The woman also tells him: ‘Please go.’
‘We know what you are,’ the man says. ‘You need to get in your car and go.’
When Entin replies that he is with the news media, the man says: ‘I don’t give a f*** who you are. You need to get in your car and go.’
Entin walks away and continues to film his news segment, which includes footage of the perimeter of the several blocks that have been sealed off by those in the ‘autonomous zone.’
Floyd’s violent arrest took place near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis on May 25. Chauvin is seen above with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck as a bystander films the encounter
The site where Floyd’s arrest took place is known as ‘The People’s Way’ (above). The Speedway gas station seen across the street is now vacant
The ‘square’ has been turned into a makeshift memorial for Floyd, who died in police custody
Community members gather at George Floyd Square just before the start of Chauvin’s trial on Monday
The image above shows a sculpture in the shape of a fist near George Floyd Square
Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes during which he is heard saying he could not breathe. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The video which went viral after Floyd’s death ignited nationwide outrage and triggered large-scale protests and rioting throughout the country.
In the days following Floyd’s death, the scene of the arrest, adjacent to the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, became known unofficially as ‘George Floyd Square.’
The area has been the subject of renewed focus this week as Chauvin’s murder trial got underway in downtown Minneapolis. The other three officers charged will stand trial separate this summer.
The square, which sprang up organically, became a sort of pilgrimage site where people gathered to express their grief and anger.
Mourners left offerings and community members set up barricades of refrigerators, trash cans and wooden pallets to block traffic. The city eventually replaced those with concrete barriers.
Amid concerns that the barricaded square was decimating businesses and making the neighborhood less safe at night, city leaders recently pledged to reopen it after Chauvin’s murder trial.
Jury selection started on Monday, and the trial is expected to stretch into April.
Similar to claims made about other ‘autonomous zones’ that sprang up in the weeks after Floyd’s death in cities like Seattle, Portland, Washington, DC, and New York, it has been alleged that police are not permitted to enter the area in Minneapolis.
John Elder, a public information officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, denied the claim that the ‘autonomous zone’ has become a ‘no go’ zone off limits to cops.
Elder told DailyMail.com that residents in the area can access police services if needed, though response times are likely longer since MPD is short-staffed and the thinner police force is now required to respond to more incidents due to a rise in violent crime throughout the city.
A mural memorializing Floyd is seen above near George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on February 8
Last week, signs were posted counting down until the start of Chauvin’s trial
Signs, cards, candles, flowers, and other items are seen above at the makeshift memorial last week
Last month, Minneapolis announced a plan to spend $6.4million to hire dozens of police officers, at a time when some City Council members and activist groups have been advocating to replace the police department following Floyd’s death.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the additional funding that police requested.
According to the Minneapolis Police Department, there are only 638 officers available to work, which is roughly 200 fewer than usual.
An unprecedented number of officers quit or went on extended medical leave after Floyd’s death and the unrest that followed, which included the burning of a police precinct.
‘Our officers are in there and they do go in and patrol,’ Elder said on Thursday, though he did acknowledge that there have been instances in which cops have run into ‘interference in the area’ of George Floyd Square.
Elder also conceded that violent crime near George Floyd Square is on the rise, though he added: ‘All major cities over this past year has seen a spike in [violent] crimes so this area that you are referencing has seen a higher spike through the city than a number of other areas.’
When asked if police plan to remove the barricades, Elder referred the question to Minneapolis City Hall.
DailyMail.com has reached out to municipal officials in Minneapolis for comment.
Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo last month disputed frequent characterizations of the square as an ‘autonomous zone’ but cited those perceptions as a major reason it must be reopened.
A barricade is seen at George Floyd Square, which has been closed to allow members of the community to mourn the killing of a man last Saturday
The city has said it would allow the barricades to remain in place until the end of the Chauvin trial, though plans are afoot to remove them
Mounters visit George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Saturday
An activist addresses the media in front of a mural of Floyd at George Floyd Square on Saturday
The mural is seen above from another camera angle. Flowers can be seen at the foot of the mural
The image above shows the site where Floyd was filmed being suffocated while under the knee of Chauvin on May 25
Minneapolis police on Saturday night were searching for a gunman involved in a fatal shooting of a man in his 30s near George Floyd Square.
Police said they were alerted of the shooting at around 5:45pm local time on Saturday.
According to police, the victim of the shooting was in the ‘autonomous zone’ that lies at the edge of the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.
Police arrived at the scene and ‘were met with some interference,’ according to a spokesperson.
The victim, a man in his 30s, is believed to have gotten into an argument with the suspect, police said. After the shooting, the victim was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The gunman is then reported to have sped off in a cream-colored Chevrolet Suburban, which was ‘believed to have suffered gunshot damage.’
Earlier reports suggested that two people were shot, but no second victim was ever found.
Police said that the suspect in the shooting should be considered armed and dangerous.
The residents and activists who serve as unofficial leaders and organizers of George Floyd Square say they won’t step aside unless the city meets their list of 24 demands.
Among them: recall the county prosecutor, fire the head of the state’s criminal investigative agency, and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on programs to create jobs, combat racism and support affordable housing.
They also are demanding that the square remain closed until the trials scheduled for August of the other three officers charged in Floyd’s death.
Since the city asserted it would reopen the square after Chauvin’s trial, the caretakers of the space have declined to talk in detail about negotiations to reopen it.
Jeanelle Austin, a racial justice leadership coach and a lead caretaker of the memorial area, said the demands that fall within the city’s control aren’t unreasonable.
‘The thing about it is that a lot of the different demands are asks from different people, and black folks aren’t monolithic,’ said Austin, who is black.
In December, the City Council approved a controversial budget that was set to move $8million of funding from the police – despite record crime rates (depicted)
Violent crime has soared in Minneapolis since George Floyd’s death. Pictured above: Crime statistics up to mid-September are seen in orange, compared to 2019 figures in blue
‘So it’s really incumbent upon our city leadership to really look at the needs behind the asks, and really fulfilling those needs.’
A towering steel sculpture of a raised fist dominates the middle of the intersection, a replacement for the wooden sculpture that first went up.
Murals memorializing Floyd or marking the struggle against discrimination have overtaken nearly every vertical surface.
Warming houses are available at the barricades, and so is hand sanitizer in a nod to COVID-19 safety precautions.
A small library, a community closet for clothing and food shelves are among various services available to visitors.
Howard, a 47-year-old retired Marine who lives around the corner from the square, was so affected by Floyd’s death that she took a leave from her job as a high school English teacher to more or less watch over the square.
Howard said the neighborhood has been largely supportive of volunteers, with many residents cooking food for them.
A video on her TikTok account shows a resident’s child giving her a cupcake as the family left the square, bringing Howard to tears.
‘I haven’t had to grocery shop in six months,’ she said.
But the support isn’t total.
Andrea Jenkins, one of two City Council members representing parts of the neighborhood, said some of her constituents have complained about gunshots and the frequent sound of police helicopters overhead.
‘The neighbors deserve to have a level of comfort that does not include gunshots every night, and muggings and carjackings, and all the violent crimes we have been witnessing in this community,’ Jenkins said.
Chauvin’s murder trial got underway this week as the first half-dozen jurors were impaneled
The three other ex-officers involved in Floyd’s arrest – from left to right: Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Kiernan Lane – are scheduled to stand trial in the summer.
Violent crime at the intersection and the blocks immediately surrounding it rose dramatically in 2020, though crime also increased citywide.
There were 19 nonfatal and fatal shootings in the area in 2020, including 14 shootings from May 1 through August 31.
That’s compared with three shootings in all of 2019 and none during the summer months.
Jenkins said officers have been met with ‘protests, resistance, opposition’ that have sometimes led them to avoid policing the area.
Howard and other leaders dispute that anyone in the square has impeded officers.
A flashpoint of that argument was the fatal shooting of Dameon Chambers at the square when many people had gathered to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday.
A city document says emergency services workers were unable to get to Chambers and that police ‘ultimately had to pull Mr. Chambers to an area where the ambulance could access the area.’
The Floyd Square caretakers say it was police who delayed emergency workers, and their demands include an investigation of his death.
‘The narrative will be, to this day, that the people blocked the EMS,’ Howard said.
‘Show me the bodycam footage of people blocking emergency services vehicles for a dying black man. You won’t have it, because it doesn’t exist.’
Jenkins and others also argue that businesses in the area are being hurt by the street closure.
She said business occupancy in the area has fallen from more than 90 per cent last March to ‘probably less than 50 per cent’ nearly a year later, although it’s difficult to discern the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on those numbers.
Minneapolis is planning to spend $6.4million to hire dozens of police officers (pictured on May 30, 2020)
The City Council voted unanimously last month to approve the additional funding that police requested. The image above shows demonstrators in Minneapolis on May 31, 2020 – just days after Floyd’s death
The Speedway is now closed, with a sign that once displayed gas prices now showing a countdown to Chauvin’s trial, and other storefronts lay vacant.
Several businesses do remain open, including a couple of restaurants, a salon and a laundromat.
Members of Howard’s group say that while they’re hoping Chauvin gets convicted, the occupation of the square is about far more than the case against him.
‘Injustice closed these streets, and only justice can open them back up,’ Howard said.