MINNEAPOLIS — City crews on Thursday, June 3, removed a large portion of the sprawling memorial at the south Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd was killed by police more than a year ago.

Municipal workers began the process about 4:30 a.m. at 38th and Chicago — dubbed George Floyd Square — with community representatives playing a role in coordinating the removal of flowers, artwork and variously sized barriers and shacks, said city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.

McKenzie said that playing a key role in the transition is Agape, a peacekeeping force whose staff includes ex-gang members from the neighborhood, who is on contract with the city to keep watch over the area.

What will remain, she said, is the several-foot tall fist sculpture in the middle of the intersection that had been a major through-point for city buses and other traffic until the memorial swelled soon after Floyd's murder on May 25, 2020.

"The fist sculpture is going to remain in the roundabout," she said, while the informal garden around it was being moved.

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A woman walks past a barricade Thursday, June 3, 2021, after city employees began to reopen George Floyd Square, the area in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed in police custody the year before. (REUTERS/Nicole Neri)
A woman walks past a barricade Thursday, June 3, 2021, after city employees began to reopen George Floyd Square, the area in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed in police custody the year before. (REUTERS/Nicole Neri)

As the reopening process continued, at least two news media photographers ran into resistance as they tried to document the moment.

Some neighborhood residents and others who have visited the commercial and residential intersection over the years have expressed frustration that it has been closed to private and transit vehicles for nearly a year.

Mayor Jacob Frey has said he favors a "phased reopening" of the square that would include a Floyd memorial because he has heard from residents and business owners who want it reopened.

Agape and city leaders will hold separate news media briefings Thursday to explain how the decision was made to clear the intersection.

Police spokesman John Elder said officers are not involved in clearing the intersection, and Agape is "managing conflict and de-escalating when necessary."

Star Tribune staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report.

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