Area Where George Floyd Died Becomes ‘Police Free Zone’ Plagued By ‘Constant’ Gunfire

Protesters react after setting fire to the entrance of a police station in Minneapolis, Minn., May 28, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

The area in Minneapolis around where George Floyd died in police custody has become the site of nightly shootings and drug overdoses as police avoid the area and local officials consider how to restore order.

Residents say lawlessness reins at night in the four blocks in South Minneapolis near where Floyd died. Floyd was arrested on May 25 and later died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as he pleaded for air.

In early July, a pregnant woman was fatally shot in the area after 9 p.m. and her newborn was delivered. Dr. Jackie Kawiecki, who set up a medic station for protesters right next to where Floyd was arrested, said she has administered to people with double gunshot wounds as well as people suffering from drug overdoses, the New York Times reported.

City officials are weighing how to preserve Floyd’s memory in the area, such as establishing a permanent memorial, and restore order without exacerbating the unrest.

“What people aren’t recognizing is that people who live there are having a very, very challenging time from the unlawfulness that is occurring after the sun goes down,” said City Council member Andrea Jenkins, whose district includes the area. “There are constant gunshots every night. Emergency vehicles can’t get in. Disabled people are not able to access their medications, their appointments, their food deliveries, et cetera. It’s a very challenging situation.”

June saw 75 shootings in Minneapolis up from 24 shootings during the same month last year. Some Minneapolis residents have started armed neighborhood patrols since the protests and riots began in May and the city saw a sudden uptick in violence. One community installed a gate that police approved to keep outsiders out.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council last month announced that a veto-proof majority had voted to dissolve the department, a proposal opposed by both the mayor and police chief, and is working to get the issue onto the ballot for voters to decide in November.

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