A Minneapolis business owner is threatening to sue Mayor Jacob Frey (D.) and the city council for creating a "lawless" zone near his establishment.
Mark Thompson, a lawyer representing the owner of grocery store Cup Foods, sent a letter to city officials last week demanding they remove barricades blocking off the area—which some are calling an "autonomous zone"—around where George Floyd was killed in May. Floyd died in a police confrontation after a Cup Foods employee reported him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at the store. According to the letter, the area has become "too dangerous to conduct business" at night due to the barricades and the city’s failure to provide adequate policing.
"After dark, the area is basically a lawless zone that is too dangerous to conduct business," the letter says. "In fact, due to the City’s barricades and refusal to provide law enforcement in the area, the City has created and is maintaining this lawless zone. This is unacceptable."
Jamar Nelson, a spokesman for Cup Foods, told KSTP-TV, an ABC affiliate, that crime has "absolutely" increased in the area as a result of the city’s actions.
"Absolutely crime has increased," Nelson said. "And I think that other businesses have also talked about how they’re losing tens of thousands of dollars a month because people can’t come in. Businesses suffer because of what’s going on, and that’s a darn shame."
Nelson added that it would be "dangerous" for the city to refrain from taking action to reduce crime in the area.
"We cannot sit idly by and watch crime increase, with our eyes wide shut," Nelson said. "That is just dangerous."
Floyd’s death sparked a wave of protests and riots across the country this summer. In response, Minneapolis City Council at one point voted to abolish the city’s police department—though they later complained that police were not doing enough to address the uptick in crime. The Star Tribune reported in September that the city’s poorest neighborhoods "suffered the most" from the crime increase that corresponded with this summer’s riots. Violent crimes in Minneapolis are up more than 20 percent this year, according to the Minneapolis police department’s most recent crime data.