The intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has become an infamous address. It was there, last May, George Floyd died at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murder murder this week. Since Floyd’s death, the area has seen protests, vigils, and even baptisms in the name of Floyd, as well as four fatal shootings.
For several months, some protesters have blocked traffic at the intersection and declared it an “autonomous zone,” in the vein of the lawless ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ that sprung up in Seattle last summer. With Chauvin awaiting sentencing, they apparently have no intention of moving, and a poster seen in the zone this week lays out some peculiar demands of white visitors.
“White people in particular” are advised to “decenter” themselves, a nebulous word lifted straight from the Critical Race Theory texts of academics like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi.
Furthermore, white people are asked to “be mindful of whether your volume, pace, and movements are supporting or undermining your efforts to decenter yourself,” and should any trouble arise, they’re asked to seek out other whites for help, “so that you will not harm BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Color].”
Finally, white people who witness other white people failing to “decenter” themselves appropriately are asked to step in and defuse the situation, “to take the burden off of Black folks and our siblings of color.”
Caucasian visitors down with these rules can enter ‘George Floyd Square’ to check out the murals, and pay their respects to the late Floyd.
The rule sheet, displayed prominently to those arriving at the intersection, was posted to Twitter on Wednesday by conservative reporter Jorge Ventura, and was mocked online. “Do they have separate water fountains and bathrooms for white people too?” one commenter quipped, referencing the segregation of the Jim Crow-era South.
Inside the zone, protesters have erected a notice board listing 24 “demands.” Among them are calls for the city to defund its police department, to invest in black neighborhoods, and to free a black criminal they say was wrongly convicted. Until these demands are met, the activists insist that the intersection will remain barricaded off.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who famously wept at Floyd’s coffin last year, has said that the intersection will not go back to “normal,” but “will not and cannot be an autonomous zone.”
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