First responders were delayed in giving medical assistance to a victim of a brutal assault inside an alleged “autonomous zone” in Minneapolis, according to police. But a spokesperson for a citizens group inside the autonomous zone claim that police and EMS were not impeded from helping the man who was severely beaten.
KSTP-TV interviewed the man who was attacked, who asked to only be identified by his first name, Dan. He is the owner of Mill City Autobody, which is located inside the four-block autonomous zone in downtown Minneapolis near the memorial dedicated to George Floyd. There are barricades blocking entry into the area, as well as signs that read “NO PIGS” and “YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE FREE STATE OF GEORGE FLOYD.”
“Concrete barricades surrounding the intersection prevent cars from driving through. Police officers do not enter the space — nor are they welcome,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune
wrote earlier this month. City officials say businesses inside the occupied zone are “suffering” and “it’s difficult for first responders to enter without the help of the neighbors who guard the barricades.”
Around 5 p.m. on Aug. 5, Dan was violently attacked and knocked unconscious during a robbery attempt.
“I was in my office and I heard a noise. I was talking to the guy and I woke up after that in the hospital,” he told KSTP reporter Jay Kolls. “He broke my computer and took stuff out of my desk.”
“I had a broken cheekbone, teeth missing, stitches in my head and I was knocked out,” Dan said. “It took police and the ambulance a very long time to get here because they had a hard time getting inside the barricades.”
“It is difficult for ambulances to even come in here when they have to remove some of these things to get through,” Dan’s wife, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.
The Minneapolis Police Department said it took 14 minutes to respond to the violent incident with an EMS crew.
“The crowd from the George Floyd Memorial began moving toward us and people were hollering that they were going to kick our a**** and that we would have to kill them,” an internal police report obtained by KSTP states.
Marcia Howard, a high school English teacher who works with a citizens’ group to help keep order in the autonomous zone, told KSTP-TV that there were no hostile crowds that prevented first responders from assisting the wounded man.
“They came in unimpeded, unfettered with EMS,” Howard said. “They are not being met with violence or hostile crowds and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant lie.”
Howard and other community leaders say they are occupying the area to demand justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality. In August, activists announced a list of 24 demands that need to be met before they would open up the occupation of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.
The list of demands include holding the trial for the four ex-Minneapolis officers accused in George Floyd’s death; recalling Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman; investing $400,000 in a youth jobs program; and firing four top Bureau of Criminal Apprehension officials, including Superintendent Drew Evans. Thus far, only one demand has been met.
The city announced plans to open the autonomous zone last month, but the plans were scrapped. City council member Andrea Jenkins said the city and the occupants find themselves “at an impasse.”
“The intersection needs to be reopened. It’s one of the largest transit hubs in the entire city,” Jenkins said. “But there is the reality that there is this deep … reckoning that needs to happen in this country. In this entire country. The intersection at 38th and Chicago is the symbol of what is going on throughout America.”
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told Fox News there is no autonomous zone, but there are people who interfere with first responders.
“This autonomous zone talk is ridiculous,” Elder said. “We literally are patrolling every inch of this city that is public property bar non, period.”
“We have people throwing items at our officers as they’re trying to get Narcan to a woman that overdosed,” Elder noted. “There are certain pockets of this city where we meet substantial resistance.”
“There is no autonomous zone in the area of 38th and Chicago Avenue, or anywhere else in the City of Minneapolis,” a city spokesperson said in a statement. “Laws and enforcement responsibilities have not changed for any part of the city.”
The statement also said that the city is in negotiations with the people occupying the area, and they expect the area to reopen sometime “before winter.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) declined an interview requests from KSTP.