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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

City plans for George Floyd’s death site making slow progress

38th and Chicago neighborhood continues conversations about future renovations
Image by Alexandra DeYoe
38th and Chicago has remained a memorial site remembering George Floyd’s death since March 2020.

The site of George Floyd’s murder, known as George Floyd Square, stands solemn and quiet. Cars pause at the four-way stop, residents walk leisurely down the street and storefronts are slow with business.

The Square has kept most of its decorations and memorials from the past four years since Floyd’s death. The symbolic Say Their Names Cemetary is now a block away, displaying headstones of 100 Black people who died at the hands of police.

With recent memorials on the anniversary of Floyd’s death on May 25, Minneapolis leaders and community members continue discussions about the area’s future.

Rise and Remember, formerly George Floyd Global Memorial, aims to preserve and reserve all the flowers, artwork and items donated to the Square’s memorial space.

Executive Director of Rise and Remember Jeanelle Austin said she strives to keep the community together during these conversations about the neighborhood.

“We’re here for the pursuit of justice and we’re people over property,” Austin said. “We have to be thinking about how are we going to care for our neighbors and what is going to be the pride of our neighbors, regardless of whatever happens to the space.”

Community input sessions began in 2022 and continue today. Major plans for the area are known as the THRIVE Development Plan and the 38th and Chicago Revisioned. Additionally, conversations about transforming “People’s Way,” formerly a Speedway gas station, into a community space continue circulating.

The THRIVE plan, aimed at strengthening the economics, culture and affordability of the neighborhood, was approved in 2021 by the Minneapolis City Council. The 38th and Chicago plan, which hopes to physically redesign the area, remains in progress.

Council Member Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8) said her ultimate goal for the Square is to create a place for healing and memorial within the community. Jenkins said she wants to ensure the trauma the community experienced is addressed and understood.

“We can’t go back and undo 400 years of oppression and suppression and depression, but we can acknowledge that that’s real,” Jenkins said.

The budget for renovating 38th and Chicago was $700,000 in 2023. According to Jenkins, around $300,000 will be added to the original budget for local artists to create public art in the area.

King Demetrius is the owner of Listen 2 Us Studio located in the Square. He said he wants more support for Black-owned, small businesses in the area and less treatment as a tourist destination.

Demetrius said he started the studio as an independent media source to ensure people from all walks of life could share their photography.

“I open this space up because I wanted to make sure that I give voices to the voiceless,” Demetrius said.

The Cultural and Wellness Center in Minneapolis and architecture firm 4+MULA in St. Paul will partner together to renovate the area once input from the community engagement sessions is collected. The next session will be on June 25.

Jenkins said she would like to see a museum or healing center as a form of therapy for the community and to remember its shared history. Jenkins said a permanent memorial, such as the Black Lives Matter fist statue, is important to keep in the community as a reminder of its past.

“Our community is so broken, so deeply traumatized,” Jenkins said. “We need to be able to talk. We need to be able to be in spaces where we are understood and heard and be able to really share our own grief and mourn. But not stay in that place, right? To grow.”

Demetrius said he expects 38th and Chicago to become gentrified in the long run, similar to Hiawatha and Lake Street. He said it is disheartening to see a neighborhood grow unaffordable for its long-time residents.

Austin said whatever decision is made about the area, it has to come from the community’s collective consensus. Austin added this is a sensitive topic for the community because it can divide people.

“How do we preserve everything that we worked for over the last four years to get to know each other and love each other and care for each other and not allow a plan of development to divide people?” Austin said.

Demetrius said the Square needs to focus on creating stronger unity in the community and building internal support instead of seeking it from the outside. He added having city leaders and lawmakers show up in the area and engage with small businesses is crucial for unity.

“We’re here,” Demetrius said. “We live here. We have our business here. We try to raise our children here. We try to show them something different than what their children showed us.”

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  • Ken DeYoe
    Jun 8, 2024 at 7:58 am