George Floyd Square

Submitted by ajherre9 on Wed, 01/25/2023 - 19:10
Image of the metal fist statue at 38th and Chicago.

The Free State of George Floyd

Created in collaboration with the documentary team at FLOWSTATE films and the community at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, our Center has created a short film about the events of Floyd's murder and the subsequent uprising and memorialization effort led by the Minneapolis community. It documents the rise and life of the autonomous protest zone, redefining what community safety looks like.


The George Floyd Square Project

George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020 sparked a global wave of protests against police violence and brutality. In Minneapolis itself, it sparked a cross-race and cross-class rebellion that culminated with the burning of the 3rd precinct and the occupation of George Floyd Square—the intersection where Floyd was murdered. The uprising was not a “movement” composed of movement organizations attempting to influence legislation—though such actors were mobilized by the events surrounding Floyd’s murder. Rather, it was a cross-race and cross-class rebellion against state violence which was led by people marginalized in contemporary neoliberal Minneapolis. It was the poor, the unemployed, gig workers, black people, brown people, trans people, precariously housed people, and the young. At the intersection of 38th and Chicago, a protest community consisting of those same people, along with neighborhood residents, occupied a barricaded, 4-square block, temporary cop-free zone which lasted over a year. Even without the barricades, the protest community at 38th and Chicago persists to this day.

The Center for Work and Democracy has been conducting ethnographic and interview-based research in George Floyd Square since August 2020, and indeed we have been the only researchers that have been with the protesters there on an ongoing basis. The project is led by Michael McQuarrie who is attempting to understand the nature of protest occupations in dense and complicated urban neighborhoods, the roots and dynamics of protest practice at George Floyd Square, the nature of urban rebellions, the vision of emancipation the community there aspires to, the sociological foundations of the protest, and how the occupation lasted as long as it did compared to other protest occupations during the George Floyd Uprising and the Occupy movement. The Center for Work and Democracy has also been a collaborator with and supporter of the community at George Floyd Square as they endeavor to realize justice in the wake of racialized state violence.

This project will yield a book, articles, a museum exhibit, a short film (see below), and conference collaborations that bridge the activists in the Square and academics around the country (see the events page). For more information contact Michael McQuarrie or Muriel Payraudeau.

Relevant works

Balli, E. (2021, April 12). ASU director on the changing landscape of activism and protest in America. ASU News 

Burks, M., Nguyen, C. T., & Frost, E. (2020, November 25). Six months in, the call for justice at 38th and Chicago persists. MPR News 

Hawkins, M. (2022, January 4). Introducing Jeanelle Austin, ASU’s inaugural activist-in-residence. ASU News 

Hendricks, T. (2021, April 25). ASU professor creates ‘George Floyd Square’ documentary. 12 News 

Jonsson, P. (2021, September 9). What happens when protesters take over for the police? Christian Science Monitor 

What George Floyd Square is all about. (2021, April 21). In Arizona PBS 

 Project by

 Research team

Michael McQuarrie
Muriel Payraudeau
Jorge Hernandez
Samantha Crosby