MINNEAPOLIS — Black-owned businesses surrounding the area where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis last year say they are in desperate need of help from police.
Black merchants operating on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, known as George Floyd Square, are struggling to stay open due to rampant crime and say police have blocked off the intersection, creating a dangerous autonomous zone, according to the New York Post.
“The city left me in danger,” the owner of Smoke in the Pit said Thursday, two days after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder for Floyd’s death, Washington Examiner reported. “They locked us up on here and left us behind.”
Left-wing militants have reportedly been patrolling the autonomous zone around the Floyd memorial, and business owners say crime has spiraled out of control as a result.
“The situation at the memorial, from what I understand, is its kind of volatile,” Kim Griffin, a Minneapolis resident, said last month, Law Officer reported. “People that want to go and support doesn’t feel a sense of inclusion. There is more of a like militant-type atmosphere over there and a sense of fear.”
Griffin should know as she has a unique perspective. Her nephew, Imez Wright, was gunned down within the zone in March. She said activists blocked police from responding.
“Police were not allowed to get into that area; he was carried out outside of the zone of George Floyd Square,” she said. “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.”
Meanwhile, several stores on the block are boarded up, and the New York Post reported that many owners and workers were afraid to comment about the dire situation due to fear of reprisal.
“Look around. Things are empty,” said Richard Roberts, who works at a nearby church. “What can we do about it?”
As a result of the grim circumstances, a GoFundMe page has been created to help owners mitigate losing 75% of their revenue since the memorial was established.
“Following the killing of George Perry Floyd Jr. and the reduction of the Minneapolis Police Department, there has been uncontrollable crime in this city,” the page stated. “Carjackings have nearly tripled and cars and catalytic converters are being stolen at high rates. Reports of bullets whizzing through the streets, businesses, innocent unintended residence homes, into cars and walls are plentiful. There is constant gunfire day and night, through all seasons despite the belief that winter would slow crime and gunfire it has not! In fact these Black businesses have suffered a similar fate having windows shot out from random gunfire, cars stolen, customers not patronizing businesses due to fear of violence in the neighborhood and throughout the city.”
The page also stated that the black-owned businesses have become a “sacrificial lamb” of the Black Lives Matter movement and that “in the fight for justice we must not forget the fight of economic justice of once thriving community.”
Police have said they are planning to send more support to the area but so far have not, according to the business owners, the Washington Examiner reported.