MINNEAPOLIS — Black-owned businesses at the intersection where George Floyd was killed by police last year — now known as George Floyd Square — say they are in dire straits.
Black merchants near the once-thriving corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue said police have abandoned the blocked-off intersection, creating a dangerous autonomous zone that has seen crime spike and business evaporate.
“The city left me in danger,” the owner of Smoke In The Pit restaurant told The Post Thursday.
“They locked us up on here and left us behind,” said the merchant, who asked to be identified only as Alexander W. for fear of reprisals.
“They left me with no food, no water, nothing to eat,” he said. “The police, fire trucks, can’t come in here.”
On Thursday the intersection was essentially abandoned — save for the occasional gawker who posed for photos in front of a mural outside Cup Foods, the convenience store where Floyd allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill.
At least five stores along one block are shuttered. Owners and workers at most of the stores that do remain open were too afraid to comment to The Post.
“Look around, things are empty,” said Richard Roberts, who works at the nearby Worldwide Outreach for Christ church. “What can we do about it?”
“Sometimes it’s good and sometimes bad,” Roberts said. “It’s not stopping violence.”
The black-owned businesses say they have lost 75-percent of their business since the Floyd memorial sprouted up shortly after his death — and have even launched a GoFundMe fundraising page in a desperate bid to stay afloat.
The merchants “feel they have been the sacrificial lambs” in the city’s response to Floyd’s death, according to the fundraising page.
“In the fight for justice we must not forget the fight of economic justice of (a) once-thriving community,” the page said. “We business owners know that the fight for justice doesn’t just include justice from the legal system, we must also include justice for business impacted.”
The city barricaded the intersection to allow for the Floyd memorial to be erected.
Phil Khalar, a member of the group that oversees the memorial, said the merchants’ complaints are part of “a false narrative.”
“It’s not like we are telling delivery drivers or customers not to come in,” he said. “This area has always been violent.”
Khalar said Bloods gang members “keep us safe in their own way.”
But residents and businesses complain that a new element of lawlessness has seeped into the area recently — with left-wing militants and gang members turning it into a “volatile” autonomous zone.
Police said last month they would retake the intersection and restore safety, but gave no timeline, the Star-Tribute reported at the time.
And it has yet to happen — even after a jury on Tuesday convicted ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death.
“Business is bad,” an employee of Giant Express Laundromat said of the Square.
“No one absolutely knows who runs this,” he said. “It’s like a union. One person is selected as a leader one week and if they’re not fit they get thrown out.”
“The black and white community now made this a hangout place to come and grieve,” he added. “There should be a memorial, but something has to be done.”
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