The intersection in south Minneapolis where George Floyd died in police custody on May 25 has become a quasi-religious shrine. It is a shrine not just to Floyd, who is honored here as if he were a saint or a martyr, but to the political power of the Black Lives Matter movement and the ascendency of the radical left in this city.
The intersection and the neighborhood around it have been “occupied” for months now. To get to the memorial—or “George Square,” as it’s now called—you must approach on foot. For a block in every direction, the streets are closed to traffic, barricaded by concrete roadblocks and makeshift chevaux de frise. Behind the roadblocks, plywood shields are stacked up next to a tent and an outhouse.
A young man in a pink sweater and green hair greets me as I approach. He informs me that it is Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly Columbus Day), and that there is a healing circle for indigenous peoples underway at the intersection next to the memorial. I am not allowed to take pictures of them, he says. By what authority he orders me not to take pictures, he doesn’t say. So I take pictures. …
… The whole intersection has an apocalyptic feel. Firewood is stacked up around the gas pumps for use, I’m told, by the steady stream of “people experiencing homelessness” who often “occupy” the intersection at night. Every smashable window is boarded up, and every board bears some spray-painted curse directed at the police or Trump — and if not a curse, a call for justice in the name of Floyd.
The scene recalls nothing so much as the shrines one sees in Mexico and Central America to Catholic saints or the Blessed Mother or the honored dead, with the crucial difference that here the shrine is marked not by reverence but by simmering rage.