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Memorial garden near Winston Smith shooting site is removed

The property owner cited ongoing destruction and violence as reasons it removed the tribute to Smith and Deona Marie Knajdek Erickson.
The memorial garden for Winston Smith and Deona Marie on July 2.

The memorial garden for Winston Smith and Deona Marie at West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South on July 2. 

The memorial garden created for Winston Smith after he was fatally shot by law enforcement in Uptown, Minneapolis, has been removed. 

The garden, at West Lake Street and Girard Avenue, has been growing since two U.S. Marshals task force members shot Smith on the top level of a parking ramp while they were trying to arrest him on June 3. The garden also pays tribute to Deona Marie Knajdek Erickson, who was killed when a driver plowed through protesters at the intersection on June 14. 

But on Wednesday, property owner Seven Points Uptown (formerly Calhoun Square) removed the garden, citing the "continued destruction of property, violent acts, arson, noise ordinance violations, and blocking access to Uptown residents and businesses."

The area has been the site of ongoing protests since Smith's death. 

Seven Points said these factors created an "unsustainable and unhealthy situation." 

The property owner has posted on Facebook a few times since June stating its commitment to allow the garden to stay indefinitely — so long as things remained peaceful and safe — while they work toward a "permanent tribute," stressing that "continued property destruction" and blocking access to businesses and homes is "unacceptable."

Related: For second year in a row, the Uptown Art Fair has been canceled

The property owner said Wednesday it made the decision to remove the garden "in collaboration with" neighbors, community stakeholders and the City of Minneapolis.

"The priority must be the health, safety, security and overall wellbeing of all of our neighbors, businesses, employees, tenants, customers and visitors," the statement said. 

Video and photos posted to social media show a skid-steer loader and other machinery were brought in to remove the garden, and police on bicycles were at the scene. 

In a statement to Bring Me The News, the City of Minneapolis spokesperson Casper Hill said: 

"Seven Points leadership reached out to the City for counsel on how to initiate the process of restoring their private property to a state of full operation for their tenants and patrons. The decision was collectively made to move forward on July 14 with private contractors hired by Seven Points.

"Minneapolis Police Officers were stationed on nearby streets for the duration of the morning to ensure a peaceful transition. The City of Minneapolis is aligned with Seven Points and the families of Winston Smith and Deonna Marie in creating a permanent memorial dedicated to furthering racial justice and honoring their memory."

The city came under fire in June for removing the memorial created for George Floyd outside of Cup Foods after police murdered him. The city hired the Agape Movement to help reopen 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, but suggested it was a community-led effort. 

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