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Grief, frustration mark two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder

Plus: St. Paul man accused of ‘sextortion’ scheme that victimized at least 500 girls; St. Louis Park City Council proposes help to homeowners whose property was damaged by massive water main break; Fort Snelling to reopen after $34.5 million revitalization effort; and more.

Ray Curt and Butchy Austin playing music at the Say Their Names memorial as part of a march and vigil on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
Ray Curt and Butchy Austin playing music at the Say Their Names memorial as part of a march and vigil on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
REUTERS/Eric Miller

Frederick Melo writes in the Pioneer Press: “Fueled by a palpable mix of shared grief, optimism and frustration, hundreds gathered Wednesday at George Floyd Square, the site of Floyd’s death outside the Cup Foods market at Chicago Avenue and 38th Street. Many came to mourn and demand greater police accountability, or to show solidarity with residents who have rallied to keep the square an arts-driven memorial to Floyd, who was 46 and unemployed as a result of the pandemic when he was killed on May 25, 2020. ‘So many people here come to the same conclusion — it could be me, my brother, my cousin — as opposed to “He’s just another guy, let me go on with my life,”’ said Paul Johnson, a psychotherapist who raised his children in the neighborhood and recently became involved in Communities United Against Police Brutality. Johnson added: ‘His life, we will not allow it to be in vain. If we can somehow turn these streets into safer streets from the police, that would be wonderful.’”

FOX 9 reports: “A ceremony in Minneapolis on the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death unveiled a new sign to mark the spot where he was killed by Minneapolis police officers. The new sign at the corner of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue now reads ‘George Perry Floyd Square.’ Members of George Floyd’s family were on hand as the sign as the covering was pulled off the sign on Wednesday evening.”

In the Star Tribune, Maya Rao Faiza Muhamud and Susan Du write: “Wednesday evening, about three dozen people gathered in front of the governor’s residence in St. Paul to remember Floyd and others killed by law enforcement, including Amir Locke and Jamar Clark. People held signs and artwork and led call-and-response chants including, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Say his name.’ Speakers demanded police reform and systemic change. Back at George Floyd Square, the sign dedication did not start smoothly. Floyd’s family members met with Frey and City Council President Andrea Jenkins, and as they proceeded to the site some in the crowd began calling out: ‘Go home, Frey!’  …Once the dedication was underway, Frey declined an opportunity to stand in the front row alongside Floyd family members. He had released a prepared statement earlier in the day, saying the city will continue to utter Floyd’s name and remember his life and legacy ‘as a friend, father, brother, and loved one.’”

Kat Stafford writes for AP: “Wednesday marked the second anniversary of Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, which sparked a global protest movement and calls for a racial reckoning to address structural racism that has created long-standing inequities impacting generations of Black Americans. Floyd’s slaying, along with a series of killings of other Black Americans, has wrought a heavy toll on the emotional and mental health of Black communities burdened by centuries of oppressive systems and racist practices. Mental health experts say the racism that causes the trauma is embedded in the country’s fabric and can be directly linked to the mental duress many experience today.”

For MPR, Matt Sepic reports: “While countless numbers of people have passed through George Floyd Square over the last two years, Marcia Howard has been a constant presence here, leading a protest occupation of about a dozen people who keep the area tidy and watch for trouble. Her group met recently to discuss how they’ll welcome the throngs of visitors expected for anniversary events, starting with Wednesday’s candlelight vigil. Minneapolis city leaders want to build a permanent memorial to Floyd as part of work to repave the street and upgrade public transit. But Howard, a Black 49-year-old high school English teacher and retired Marine, vows not to let that happen until there’s a substantive change in how police treat people of color.”

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In the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro writes:  “A St. Paul man is accused in federal court of carrying out over five years an online sextortion scheme that victimized at least 500 girls across the U.S. and elsewhere. Yue Vang, 31, was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court with two counts of production of child pornography and one count each of possession of child pornography and interstate communications with intent to extort. … According to court documents, Vang used web and social media apps, including Instagram, Snapchat, Kik and Skype, to communicate with girls from late 2015 through September 2020.”

FOX 9 reports: “Julie North woke up to a disgusting mess in her basement on Saturday morning, along with the rest of her (St. Louis Park) neighborhood. ‘We ran down here and it was already up to the bottom step and things are floating… it was shooting up out of the shower drain and the toilet,’ North told FOX 9. A massive water main break on Minnetonka Boulevard filled up nearly 60 homes on Quebec, Sumter and Rhode Island Avenues in the Oak Hill neighborhood with sewage water. … Council members are now proposing a two-phase approach to help financially. The first phase would use COVID-19 relief funds to reimburse homeowners for up to $30,000 in clean-up costs. The next phase would offer a $30,000 low-cost loan program to help with restoration.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Shannon Prather writes: “The $34.5 million revitalization of Historic Fort Snelling opens to the public on Saturday, offering visitors stunning new views of the Mississippi River as well as a more expansive telling of the site’s 10,000-year-old history that evokes both ‘pride and tragedy.’ The state, which owns the site, provided $19.5 million for the revitalization of the National Historic Landmark. The nonprofit Minnesota Historical Society, which operates the site, raised $15 million in private funding.”

The AP also reports: “Conservatives filed lawsuits in Wisconsin’s five largest cities Wednesday over the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the 2020 election, even as the state Supreme Court was poised to rule on the issue in coming weeks. The lawsuits were filed by the conservative Thomas More Society, which has also brought lawsuits in the same cities challenging the legality of private grant money awarded in 2020 to help run the election from a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. …The latest lawsuits target the use of absentee ballot drop boxes. … State law is silent on drop boxes, but the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission had told local election officials they could be placed at multiple locations.”