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'We Look At Our Protest As Art': Future Of George Floyd Square Becoming Clearer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A vision of what is to come for George Floyd Square in Minneapolis is taking shape.

Barricades remain up near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue more than seven months after Floyd died.

Jeanelle Austin, one of the memorial's lead caretakers, says the existence of the square is an act of protest meant to disrupt.

"We look at our protest as art," Austin said.

She says every offering, every piece of art, is a creative expression of pain and hope. The community's been traumatized, she says, and the constantly-evolving intersection is needed.

George Floyd Square
(credit: CBS)

"We are going to hold the space with art peacefully until somebody can get it in their imagination that we have to do something differently," Austin said.

She has been in conversation with City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, including Thursday night in a community Zoom discussion. Jenkins said before the talk that she's fought for social justice and police accountability for decades, and will always do so. But she feels that can be done without indefinitely barricading a public intersection.

"Protesters cannot just take over the city," Jenkins said. "That's not a reality."

Jenkins did commit to making the physical memorial permanent, as she fields calls from constituents about the challenges of the current setup.

"[Having to be] led in and led out is a real concern for the residents that live there and the businesses," she said.

Jenkins wouldn't offer a specific timeline on when the barricades should be removed. Austin said it should be when several demands for justice are met. In August, she and other community leaders came up with more than 20 of those demands. The city responded in detail on how it's working toward those goals.

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