Saying "enough is enough," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said city, county, and federal law enforcement partners would be brought in to tackle crime problems at George Floyd Square.
Arradondo spoke to the media on Wednesday and was joined by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, FBI Minneapolis Field Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who he said will assist in his department's plans to increase law enforcement presence at the intersection of 38th and Chicago.
He also said George Floyd Square "must be reopened" to traffic, issuing a warning to those contributing to the increasing crime reported in the barricaded "autonomous zone" that for months has seen limited police presence.
"I'm putting them on notice, enough is enough. Our community will not tolerate this anymore," Arradondo said, describing the recent spike in violent crime "staggering and unacceptable."
What was notable about Arradondo's press conference is that it was conducted with no representation from either Mayor Jacob Frey or members of Minneapolis City Council.
Frey had announced last month that the plan was to reopen the intersection to traffic after the trial of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with Floyd's murder outside Cup Foods last May 25, with the city presenting two options that will allow the intersection to function while maintaining the memorials to Floyd.
But Arradondo's latest comments suggest the reopening might happen sooner, saying that the Chauvin trial shouldn't dictate when the barricades come down, though his pledge didn't come with any definitive timeline, nor confirmation from Frey or the city council that this would be the case.
Frey and council members Andrea Jenkins and Alondra Cano did issue a statement saying that the enhanced law enforcement presence involving Hennepin County and federal partners had been obtained by the mayor's direction, with the trio saying that residents are "crying out for help" and "we need to listen and act."
"We will carry on steadfast in our work to advance racial justice and support community healing," Jenkins said. "But we also need to curb the spike in violent crime, and this support will help us do that."
More might be forthcoming on Thursday morning, when Arradondo and Frey will appear in a 10 a.m. press conference.
There has been increasing discussion about the future of George Floyd Square, with the barricaded intersection described as an "autonomous zone" that in recent weeks has seen a spate of violent incidents, notably on March 6 when a man was fatally shot outside Cup Foods in what prosecutors say was a dispute between gang members.
Minneapolis police claim their officers are often met with "interference" when a crime is reported in the area, with victims at times brought to the barricades rather than responders being allowed beyond it.
Activists stationed at the intersection called the square where Floyd died a sacred space, and it remains during daylight hours a place to honor Floyd and the wider movement for racial justice.
There have been growing concerns raised among some living in its vicinity that crime at the square is undermining the spirit of the memorial.
A collection of residents living adjacent to the square submitted a column to the Star Tribune describing the intersection as being home to "revolution by day, devolution by night," complete with a list of reported serious crimes in the area between Mar. 6 and 12.
A post on Facebook by local resident Hannah Bretz said that she ushered a young girl and boy into her basement while gunfire was erupting on Mar. 12.
A GoFundMe meanwhile has been launched on behalf of a collection of Black business owners in and around George Floyd Square, saying they have experienced a 75% loss of business due to the lack of traffic on the street, while the crime problems are also having a "profound effect" on operations.
But there remain some who defend the original aims of the memorial, as the Star Tribune's Nicole Norfleet found on Wednesday.