George Floyd died at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. At the time, it was one of the busier junctions in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. Since then, it has become an “autonomous zone” like the more famous one in Seattle. Unlike “CHAZ,” this experiment in anarchy has not been shut down.
Large black fists mark the four entrances to the square. The fists are “wrapped” to protect them from Minnesota’s harsh winters.
Another fist stands at the mid-point of 38th and Chicago, creating a roundabout.
Before the riots, there was a gas station/convenience store on one corner. After rioters wrecked it, it became the HQ of the square. There are occasional meetings at this set of benches.
Here is wood for the firepit in the middle of the benches. In the background, you can see that the marquee for “Speedway” now says “People’s Way.”
There is an events calendar on one of the gas pumps:
There is a piano and flowers.
It seems there were plans to turn part of the parking lot into a community garden, but with little success.
This is a sacred space.
In the parking lot is a small shed full of books.
Instead of the leftist tracts I expected, the books are mostly for children.
City buses no longer go through this area, so all the bus shelters have been repurposed.
These two offer free clothes.
However, it seems that some people just dump junk here, such as this piano.
This box contains clothes, but also cigarette butts.
I don’t know if this repurposed shelter ever lived up to its promise.
It doesn’t now. Here’s the inside.
The whole area is covered in graffiti, murals, signs, and stickers.
This is not a reference to 1984, but to Winston Boogie Smith, a black criminal who died resisting arrest in Minneapolis in 2021
Note the clever message on the sidewalk.
The black archer in this mural wears a mask against COVID. It’s not clear what he’s shooting at.
Locals told me “Larry” was a black man who died of a drug overdose at the square.
This is a list of martyrs killed by police. Even in person, it’s hard to read.
We recognize Angela Davis, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X (at the far left), and Huey Newton (wearing a beret), but who are the other two?
The top sticker is an appropriation of Frog and Toad from the beloved children’s book of that name. The bottom sticker is sold by a German anarchist record label.
Cup Foods, the business that called the cops on George Floyd for trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, is still open.
All this is in front of it.
The store is run by Muslims.
Cup Foods was not burned in the riots, even though staff called the police when Floyd tried to stiff them with a fake $20 bill. Why was it spared? Perhaps because it is run by tough Middle-Easterners who would probably have defended their property. It’s in the middle of a “food desert,” so it does a brisk business.
Otherwise, George Floyd Square is dirty and dangerous. Most businesses in the area, black-owned and otherwise, struggle to stay open in a chaotic environment with limited police protection. Last year, local media reported around the square: “In 2019, there were 33 [shot spotter] rounds detected. In 2020, last year, there were 185 activations with over 700 rounds detected, [Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria] Arradondo said.” Just last Saturday, at least two people were shot at the square when “an interaction between two vehicles escalated into gunfire.”
In 2020, the state set new records for murders and assaults on police officers, and in Minneapolis there is now more than one carjacking every day.
When civilization will return is anyone’s guess.