The owner of a grocery store at the site of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, Minn., has threatened to sue the mayor and city council over the establishment of an “autonomous zone” that the owner says is hurting businesses in the area, KTSP News reported on Thursday.
Employees of the Cup Foods grocery store called police in May after Floyd allegedly attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill during a purchase. The officers who responded have now been indicted for causing Floyd’s death. The killing sparked massive riots in the city during which arsonists destroyed businesses as well as the city’s third police precinct.
Activists have barricaded an area of several blocks around Cup Foods for several weeks, turning the space into what is called an “autonomous zone.” Seattle saw the establishment of an “autonomous zone” in June, but the area was evacuated following a series of shootings and an uptick in crime in the area.
Now, the owner of Cup Foods, Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, is threatening to sue the city government due to what he says is an uptick in crime in the area of the store.
“After dark, the area is basically a lawless zone that is too dangerous to conduct business,” the owner’s attorney wrote in a letter to Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council. “In fact, due to the city’s barricades and refusal to provide law enforcement in the area, the city has created and is maintaining this lawless zone. This is unacceptable.” The letter accused the city government of causing “significant financial losses” by refusing to send law enforcement to the area.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch crime increase with our eyes wide shut. That’s dangerous,” Jamar Nelson, a spokesperson for Abumayyaleh and a community activist, told KTSP. Nelson emphasized that crime has visibly gone up in the neighborhood, and that “for anybody to say otherwise is simply fooling themselves.”
Abumayyaleh has condemned the killing of Floyd repeatedly, calling it an “execution.” However, in the wake of the incident, Abumayyaleh received death threats and commenters on social media threatened to burn his store down.
“There have been countless death threats,” Nelson told the Sahan Journal in May. “They threatened to do harm to the store, and they threatened to do bodily harm to individuals in the store.”