At George Floyd Square, Traffic Now Mixes With Memorials

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June 25, 2021, 2:24 p.m. ET

June 25, 2021, 2:24 p.m. ET

By Matt Furber

George Floyd Square on Friday before the sentencing of Derek Chauvin.
Credit...Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

MINNEAPOLIS — Some scenes at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis are now very familiar. Some people pray, others take pictures and some have conversations about where things stand.

This week, as the community geared up for a judge’s sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd on April 20, people gathered at the spot where Mr. Floyd died, sharing food under a former gas station’s canopy that offered shade from the summer heat.

Across from the former gas station, in this south Minneapolis neighborhood, is the now-infamous Cup Foods convenience store, where a clerk called 911 on May 25, 2020, to report that Mr. Floyd had allegedly used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes, drawing the police to the scene. The store was open on Friday, and several people mingled through.

For a year after Mr. Floyd’s death, the square was turned into a memorial for Mr. Floyd, and barriers and activists barred cars from passing through. But earlier this month, city workers arrived before dawn, removing the barriers and placing memorial items into storage.

The return of cars to the intersection has been fraught with disagreement among activists who have battled with the city over the process and conditions of opening it back up to traffic.

Mayor Jacob Frey has said reopening the square to traffic came with community input and was meant to strike a balance between honoring Mr. Floyd’s memory and allowing the neighborhood’s businesses and residents to thrive.

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