Minneapolis, MN – A four-block so-called “autonomous zone” around the George Floyd memorial in south Minneapolis is delaying police response to 911 calls and has kept paramedics from getting to scenes during emergencies.
The cop-free area is a one-block radius around the intersection of Chicago Avenue South and East 38th Street known as George Floyd Square, KSTP reported.
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25, sparking violent protests and riots across the country.
The cop-free zone in Minneapolis where Floyd died has received significantly less media coverage, however, than its counterpart in Seattle and attempts to establish “autonomous zones” in other major cities but it has suffered from the same spike in violent crime, according to KSTP.
Seattle finally shut down the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), after multiple murders led to a slew of lawsuits against the city.
On Aug. 5, ambulances were unable to respond after the owner of Mill City Auto Body was brutally beaten during a robbery at his business because the protesters controlling access to area blocked them.
“I had a broken cheekbone, teeth missing, stitches in my head and I was knocked out,” the business owner told KSTP. “It took police and the ambulance a very long time to get here because they had a hard time getting inside the barricades.”
He said his attacker punched him several times in the head, knocking him unconscious.
Then surveillance video of the front of his business showed his attacker stomped on the business owner’s head before he left the area.
Minneapolis police and EMS tried to respond quickly to the scene to assist the victim, KSTP reported.
But police said their path was blocked by protesters manning the barricades at the boundaries of the “autonomous zone.”
Minneapolis police said it took 14 minutes for them to get through the melee to the scene, KSTP reported.
“The crowd from the George Floyd Memorial began moving toward us and people were hollering that they were going to kick our asses and that we would have to kill them,” officers wrote in the police report.
A city spokesperson denied that the “autonomous zone” existed in Minneapolis, despite the fact the city blocked off some of the streets in the area, KSTP reported.
“There is no autonomous zone in the area of 38th and Chicago Avenue, or anywhere else in the City of Minneapolis. Laws and enforcement responsibilities have not changed for any part of the city,” the city spokesperson said.
But the spokesperson also allowed that the city was negotiating with those who have occupied the area and hoped to re-open it “before winter,” KTSP reported.
Wait…so all of this time there has been an autonomous zone in Minneapolis??? Why have we not heard about this brutal attack on this business owner before now?
— Amy (@jakntuk) September 18, 2020
Marcia Howard, who said she worked with a citizens’ group to keep the peace in the “autonomous zone,” called law enforcement’s representation of the situation at the boundaries of the cop-free zone lies.
“They came in unimpeded, unfettered with EMS,” Howard said. “They are not being met with violence or hostile crowds and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant lie.”
9.11.2020 / Minneapolis, MN
The Free State of George Floyd is a autonomous zone run by the locals, hosting George Floyd’s memorial, community gardens, medic stations neighbours, memorial cemetery, hygienic stations, and vibrant local art. organisations. pic.twitter.com/ESY282AHaL
— niyen ⚡️ (@niyenk_) September 13, 2020
KSPT reported that residents have told them they are moving out of the area and businesses are shutting down because of the ongoing lawless situation around George Floyd Park.