George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day 2020. His death, following as it did other police killings of Black men, triggered a civic convulsion in Minneapolis and elsewhere that continues to roil.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has since been convicted of murder; three other former city officers await trial in Floyd’s death. Various proposals to change the use of police authority and to strengthen accountability have been, unfortunately, largely stymied at the city, state and national levels for lack of consensus.
Meanwhile the intersection of 38th Street East and Chicago Avenue South, where Floyd died, remains shut down.
In the week-plus since the anniversary of Floyd’s death, the city of Minneapolis has twice attempted to reopen what has become known as George Floyd Square to traffic. Both times debris and makeshift barricades returned to clog the intersection as soon as the crews departed.
A group that claims to speak for residents of the neighborhood has issued 24 demands it says must be met before the intersection can reopen. Many of those demands — such as the abolition of the legal doctrine of qualified immunity for police officers, the recall of the county attorney and the firing of the leadership of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — are beyond the scope of city government and/or impractical.
The city cannot negotiate with a group whose first demand is the removal of an elected county official.
As a whole, the 24 demands amount to a permanent closure of a significant commercial intersection. Keeping the roadway shut down damages the vitality and livability of the neighborhood.
The city is right to push to reopen the intersection. It is also right to do so patiently, with a minimum of confrontation. The first attempt last week brought crowds to reoccupy the space. The second, on Tuesday morning, resulted in a more muted response, but one still sufficient to reclose the streets.
No matter. The city should continue to clear out the barricades as often as it takes.