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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, began today, and in the ensuing months since his passing a great many things have changed, or are in the process of changing and nowhere is that more evident than in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the city in which Floyd, 46, sadly took his last breath.
The four-block intersection where Floyd died has been overrun and cordoned off by activists, forming a so-called “autonomous zone” known as the “Free State of George Floyd” where police are not allowed. The actual site of his death has been re-named “George Floyd Square” and contains a large, makeshift memorial to his memory.
Minneapolis’ city council, which has a progressive majority, reportedly not only allowed the creation of this autonomous zone but actually supported it initially; however, as activists have erected concrete barriers and crude wooden checkpoints manned by people looking for potential police incursion. Crime is up, streets are lined with cars with broken windows, businesses are suffering, and emergency services will not venture inside.
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Witnesses say street gangs now operate out in the open, visible firearms are commonplace, and shooting victims die because ambulances can’t – or won’t – enter the zone. Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo has called the level of violence in the zone “staggering and unacceptable.”
Where are the police during all of this, you may ask? In reaction to the nationwide protests against police brutality that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s death – with many of the protestors calling for defunding and even abolishment of the police – Minneapolis’ city council actually cut the police budget by $8 million dollars. As a result, the police force saw over 100 members leave last year, with dozens more on leave due to suffering from PTSD after fighting with violent rioters and protestors in the streets.
As a result, the Minneapolis police are only able to respond to the most serious of crimes, due to being drastically undermanned and drastically demoralized. And to top it off, the city is now being sued by residents in the autonomous zone for failing to protect them after they defunded their police department.
Don Samuels, CEO of a non-profit and a black former city councilor, is part of the aforementioned lawsuit against the city, and he noted that it was ironic that the birthplace of the movement against police brutality is now home to more violence and instability than ever before.
“We’ve historically been underserved, but now we’re being underserved by the ‘woke’ people [in the city council] who say ‘we’ll tell you, the community most vulnerable to the absence of police, what should happen,'” he said.