Making George Floyd's Square

Meet the people transforming 38th and Chicago

Interactive map: Click to navigate a map of George Floyd’s Square

This is a monthlong series looking at how the community has transformed the site of George Floyd’s killing — 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis — and at the people behind its transformation. It is the culmination of reporting over several months, and a partnership with South High School to engage neighborhood youth in telling their community’s story.


Six months in, the call for justice at 38th and Chicago persists

Light shines through a gas station on to people.
The sun sets over the Speedway gas station as community members gather to celebrate George Floyd's birthday across the street from where he was killed in Minneapolis, on Oct. 14.
Evan Frost | MPR News

While the angry demonstrations that consumed much of south Minneapolis and other cities this summer have largely disappeared, a protest with deep roots has taken hold at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Read the story


‘Allow these pieces to continue to protest': Jeanelle Austin on preserving the memorial

A person holds a piece of plastic in the air as people look underneath.
Jeanelle Austin holds up a melted piece of plastic on Oct. 21, as she attempts to identify what piece of art it could be after a fire inside of a bus stop burned many of the offerings left at the George Floyd memorial.
Evan Frost | MPR News

As winter settles in, activity has only picked up at the memorial-turned-autonomous-zone in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed by police in May. Jeanelle Austin is among the caretakers working to preserve the offerings left at the at the intersection of 38th and Chicago. Read the story


Madi Ramírez-Tentinger: Comedian puts people skills to work at George Floyd's Square

A person gazes to the left with blue sky behind them.
Madi Ramirez-Tentinger leans on a traffic barricade at the north end of George Floyd Square while directing traffic.
Evan Frost | MPR News

For six months, residents — many out of work because of the pandemic — have put their skills to use maintaining an autonomous zone at the Minneapolis intersection where police killed George Floyd. They include a comedian, whose profession prepared them for much more than cracking jokes. Read the story


George Floyd's Square offers an alternative to police — though not all neighbors want one

Painted barricades block a city road.
Barricades block traffic from passing through 38th and Chicago into the site where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis at George Floyd Square on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Efforts to reform public safety amid a sharp increase in violent crime have created tension in Minneapolis, including the neighborhood where police killed George Floyd in May. Read the story


From ‘schoolmarm’ to sentry: Teacher Marcia Howard responds to George Floyd killing

A woman stands inside a wooden structure.
At the intersection of Chicago Avenue and 39th Street, Marcia Howard stands watch Nov. 28 from inside a shack built by neighborhood residents to guard the south barricade entrance to George Floyd's Square.
Ben Hovland for MPR News

A teacher who’s spent 22 years holding teenagers in line at Roosevelt High School in south Minneapolis threw out all the rules when this summer’s social justice uprising arrived in her backyard. Read the story


A tender act of resistance: Paul Eaves cares for George Floyd’s Square

A man turns on a string of lights.
Paul Eaves checks lights that circle the perimeter of a makeshift memorial on Dec. 1 at George Floyd's Square. Eaves began coming to the square at the end of May when he first heard about Floyd's killing.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

In the four-block radius of where George Floyd was killed, residents and volunteers work together to keep things running at the makeshift memorial as they hold the space while pressing the city to meet their demands. Here’s how one of the caretakers describes his mission to present what he calls an “aesthetic dignity” to the space. Read the story


Peyton Scott Russell: Bringing the ‘Icon of a Revolution’ to George Floyd Square

A man sits in front of a large black and white painting.
Artist Peyton Scott Russell in front of "Icon of a Revolution," his portrait of George Floyd, in Minneapolis on Dec. 12.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Artist Peyton Scott Russell doesn’t consider himself a protest artist, but his 12-foot tall portrait of George Floyd he painted for his childhood neighborhood has become a fixture of protests around the world. Read the story.


'Right thing to do': Kia Bible turned bus into 'MASH unit' for community

A woman wearing a pink coat and face mask stands outside a van
Kia Bible outside of the 612 MASH van at George Floyd's Square on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News/Evan Frost | MPR News

Over the summer, Kia Bible and other volunteers turned a bus into a medical unit to heal trauma at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. It's since grown into a nonprofit staffed by volunteers who provide routine care for people in the neighborhood. Read the story.


Metro State student Huda Yusuf envisions a future of mutual aid

A woman stands in front of a gas station with painted doors.
Huda Yusuf outside of the People's Way, formerly a Speedway gas station, at George Floyd Square on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020
Lillian Wunderlich for MPR News

Metro State student Huda Yusuf works with other community members to help people experiencing homelessness and those in need who come to George Floyd’s Square.

“Usually it's just holding space — talking with others, seeing what they need. There's so many individuals that come by and so many things that happen throughout the day. You don't know what's going to happen at the square. You also shouldn't be surprised about anything that you'll see down here.” Read the story.


In ICU and at George Floyd Square, Jeanette Rupert fights two pandemics

A woman in a colorful head wrap uses a sthethoscope on a man.
Jeanette Rupert uses her stethescope to listen to Bob Hull's breathing in the bedroom of his home near George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minn., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Rupert checks in on Hull frequently to help him understand how to properly use his medications and check vitals.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Nurse Jeanette Rupert is hard to keep up with. When she's not treating COVID-19 patients in the ICU, she's dispensing medical care in and around George Floyd’s Square, just blocks from where she was born and raised. In the turbulence of 2020, Rupert says she's deepened her appreciation and commitment to her friends, family and community. Read the story.


South Mpls. poet Junauda Petrus stirs the imagination with poem about police reform

A person posing for a picture near a bush.
Activist and writer Junauda Petrus wrote the poem "Give the Police Departments To The Grandmothers" following the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014. Petrus lives near 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.
Courtesy of Junauda Petrus

Junauda Petrus is an activist, experimental performance artist and filmmaker. Petrus wrote the poem "Give The Police Department to the Grandmothers" after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in 2014. Read the story.


At 38th and Chicago, Agape Movement turns ‘street energy into community energy’

Three men stand in front of a mural.
From left, Rico Anderson, Steve Floyd, and Marquis Bowie are part of the Agape Movement, a nonprofit that trains and hires men in the neighborhood to participate in community patrols. Their office is in George Floyd's Square.
Anton Jahn-Vavrus for MPR News

Since the summer’s unrest, a local nonprofit has been working to “bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement” in south Minneapolis. 

Agape Movement has been a security force at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where George Floyd was killed and where community members and activists have created an autonomous zone. The nonprofit trains young people to participate in community patrols instead of committing crimes. Read the story.


'Like Uber Eats for therapy': Isak Douah helps connect community to mental health care

A man stands with a gas mask on.
Isak Douah was in Amsterdam when he got the news that Minneapolis police had killed George Floyd near the neighborhood where he grew up.
Photo by Awa Mally

When he saw footage of his hometown on fire the week following the police killing of George Floyd, Isak Douah jumped on a plane from Amsterdam, where he was studying fashion, to Minneapolis. All summer, he volunteered to work security at the intersection where Floyd died. Seeing the trauma there, he decided to develop a mobile app to connect people in his community to mental health care. Read the story.


'This circle is about healing’: Jay Webb sees himself as caretaker of the energy at George Floyd’s Square

man stands in front of a fist sculpture
Over the summer, Jay Webb tended to the garden around the Black Power fist sculpture at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Webb works as a general contractor in the Twin Cities and is involved in numerous nonprofits that focus on food and clothing donations.
Laurel Bandy for MPR News

Jay Webb is a caretaker and organizer who worked on creating the garden around the “Black Power” fist sculpture at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Webb gives his perspective about the emotional connections that take place in George Floyd’s Square, and the healing properties it provides. Read the story.


Interactive timeline: Making George Floyd’s Square

If you don’t see the timeline above, click here to view the graphic.

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