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US city of Minneapolis reopens intersection where George Floyd was killed

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City workers prepare on June 3, 2020 to reopen the intersection in Minneapolis, Minnesota where George Floyd was murdered./AFP
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Jun 04, 2021 - 07:55 AM

MINNEAPOLIS — The midwestern US city of Minneapolis on Thursday began reopening the intersection where George Floyd died, which became a memorial to the African American whose murder by police sparked a racial reckoning but has also been marred by violence.

City workers arrived before daybreak to remove concrete barriers blocking access to the junction where the 46-year-old suffocated under the knee of a white police officer in May last year.

They installed signs to create a roundabout encircling a statue of a huge raised fist erected in the center of what has been renamed “George Floyd Square.”

For more than a year, equal rights activists have occupied the square, tying its reopening to the adoption of police reforms. A local residents association was on hand Thursday to defuse tensions as the city workers moved in.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said that it would take more than a few days to complete the reopening.

“We have a lot of trust to rebuild and we intend to do so,” he told a news conference.

The site has become a symbol of the fractures caused by racism and the oppression of Black people across the United States, and is illustrated with numerous murals, a community garden and other installations.

But it has also become a hot-spot for violence where the police are not welcome.

Shootings are frequent, especially at night, and have resulted in a dozen deaths or injuries in the area in a year, according to law enforcement.

Police are not involved in the operation to reopen the intersection, a spokesman told AFP.

And the city is “taking great care to preserve artwork and artifacts” there, added a city council representative, Sarah McKenzie.

Authorities have long wanted to reopen the intersection but had been waiting for a conclusion in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who in April was convicted of murdering Floyd.

To help the neighborhood bounce back, the Floyd family plans to invest $500,000 out of the $27 million they won in a wrongful death settlement against the city in local economic and cultural groups.

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