For months, a group of leftwing extremists has been camping out near the site of George Floyd’s death. Individuals described as “militant” are keeping police, journalists, and white people away from the so-called Minneapolis “autonomous zone.”
The six-block area is a major problem for the underfunded and understaffed Minneapolis Police Department. The department was all but disbanded by the Minneapolis City Council in the weeks following Floyd’s death.
The situation is “volatile,” says Kim Griffin. Griffin is a local whose nephew was shot and killed in the autonomous zone this month. “Police were not allowed to get into that area…It was made clear law enforcement was not welcome to penetrate that zone, which is an atrocity because his life was taken, and I mean who knows whether or not he would have survived had things been different.”
Police have also been unable to help businesses and residencies inside the zone, some of which are being “robbed by the same people two to three times a week,” said retired Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith. “The police are literally barricaded from going in there,” she added. “It’s very frustrating because it’s already a very disadvantaged area to begin with.”
Critics lay the blame on Minneapolis leadership, which has largely prevented the police department from doing its job.
“Insurrectionists destroyed an MPD precinct because the mayor wouldn’t allow the cops to do what they’re trained to do,” argues Steve Pomper, a retired police officer who worked in Seattle.
The zone’s residents claim they will reopen the area if the city meets a list of demands, but aim to keep it closed until trials are held for Derek Chauvin and the other police officers implicated in George Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s murder trial began last week and the others are set to begin in August.
In February, the Minneapolis City Council approved an additional $6.4 million for police recruitment in the face of rising crime and violence. There were 532 gunshot victims in 2020 (more than twice the number reported in 2019). Carjackings increased more than 330% from the same period the year prior and violence crimes eclipsed 5,100.
Author’s Note: George Floyd’s death was bad enough without the additional pain, suffering, and death caused by the protests. Minneapolis needs to shut this shit down as soon as possible.