If you end up going to the George Floyd Memorial Zone (GMZ) I recommend you take a pair of sunglasses, a pack of cigarettes, and a rosary. The sunglasses provide cover for the eye-rolling and gawking you’ll do in this sacred space, the cigarettes provide an excuse not to wear the face-muzzle which in the GMZ are so obviously a sign of racial humiliation, and the rosary just in case you want to recall that the bizarre Ground Zero of international embarrassment you are standing at is also the place of a poor wretch’s death. Some protection against the demonic doesn’t hurt either.
The GMZ consists of the city blocks of Chicago Avenue cordoned off around Cup Foods, the grocery that called in Floyd’s use of counterfeit bills, and the street where the fentanyl-stunned felon gave up the ghost. It is now a “sacred space”—the signs tell you this upon entering—and patrolled by all-black “volunteers.” The occupation is illegal, and the Cup Foods is essentially being held hostage by “security” forces who never leave its doorway, but the GMZ still cares very much about Corona regulations. Hand-washing stations and facemask bins are located at every entry point of the open-air shrine. The masks are part of the ceremony. About half of the black folks wandering the GMZ wear them; all of the white people do. My two times in the GMZ, black “volunteers” yelled at me to wear a mask. I ignored them—what, were they going to call the cops? The second time an obese woman threatened to “light me up” with the water gun she was carrying. The GMZ is a place where white people “listening” to black people is very important.
The shrine to Floyd on the street is squalid, a mess of flowers and signs. I looked for any indication of traditional religious devotion—whether cross or crescent—but beyond a painted sign saying that Floyd was “God’s child,” the only deity recognized at the shrine is George Floyd himself. Where he breathed his last is painted the image of a winged angel. A sign reads “Remember George Floyd every time you breathe.” A billboard over the scene quotes Our Lord in the Gospels, and in bigger font Floyd’s last words. His sullen, homely face is painted and plastered all over the city. In death he has risen above death.
There are worshippers. They are largely white, looking to be from the suburbs. Older women bring their young children to look at the shrine. I was there in the afternoon, when traffic was steady but not great. One woman cried, but most of the whites just stared in their muzzles. Do you pray for this man, who in his death has been deified? Do you honor the life of this violent felon and porn actor? The white people don’t know. Floyd’s death was a kind of incarnation of a million liberal platitudes. “I can’t even.” “I can’t breathe.” “I’m so tired.” The white people know to be cowed in its presence, but they don’t know exactly what this god means.
There are theologians that float around too. I came to the shrine in the middle of a heated discussion between a guy spray-painting raised fists on some of the planters, and an atheist standing nearby. When I say “heated,” I mean they were already calling each other n****rs. The believer was profanely involved in defending the existence of a Deity. The atheist scoffed; he asked if he had ever been to prison (the answer was yes). “See? Ain’t no one protecting you, n*****!” The believer clarified his stance on the nature of the Godhead: “I mean Supreme DNA, not Supreme Being!” I would’ve liked to hear more about the omnipotent Supreme DNA, but the nword-counter was running out of digits and it looked like the theologians might soon be coming to blows. The obese negress cried “Pour some water on it!” as she approached. We white people at the shrine all got embarrassed and drifted towards the monument to black strength a few feet away. I lost track of the dialogue until I heard the believer tell the negress very emphatically, “You are not black.” Such subtleties are not for men like me to understand.
The religious fervor is strong through the entire city, even away from the shrine. In a shack on Lake Street, a muzzled white girl has a library of black literature she wants to share with white allies. Nearby Powderhorn Park is home of a tent encampment, and the residents are committed to not calling the cops (from what I can tell from Minneapolis Crime Watch, some of this commitment is waning). BLM signs are everywhere, next to Transsexual Pride flags and Bernie Sanders signs; the one neighborhood where BLM signs were absent was a black middle-class neighborhood I wandered through on my way back to the Interstate. Certainly they support BLM as a political entity, but as a religion BLM is a white liberal thing.
Minneapolis has become the butt of many jokes. Its crime rate has soared, its police force is understaffed, and precipitous decline seems inevitable. But I am not convinced this will come to pass. Minneapolis is still a white, affluent city. The last decade’s enormous increase in housing prices helps regulate who can live there. The Metropolitan Council distributes low-income housing across the entire metro region, allowing the suburbs to share the wealth of blacks, Mexicans, and Somalis you once saw only in the Cities. In other words, Minneapolis has an exceptional ability to control its own demographics. Crime rates will scare away sane and good people, but very few people in Minneapolis are sane and good anymore. The whites the city attracts will be more gung-ho on the city’s cult than those sane people jumping ship, and the cult is what matters.
No, I think Minneapolis is becoming more perfect. Lake Street still hosts many piles of rubble, but the city and community members have done a good job cleaning the worst of the graffiti. The destruction extended well into the hipster enclave of Uptown, but it hasn’t stopped luxury apartments from being built there, or your “social democrat” barista from wanting to live there. I still haven’t found a part of Minneapolis that is as bad as your average street in Detroit or the South Side of Chicago. Even the Powderhorn Park encampment isn’t as squalid as you might imagine. People talking about the city’s decline treat it as if the people living there wanted peace and personal prosperity. They don’t. They want to live at the heart of the cult. The car-jackings and assaults are just further incense to be burned at the altars. The entire city is kind of black holocaust offered to savagery and anarchy, and there is still plenty more material to burn.
And the Floyd site is literally satanic. As I was first leaving the GMZ, I asked my girlfriend if she saw the same thing I did. She agreed: It was a large makeshift statue of Baphomet, sitting very plainly under the awning of a house. When I returned to snap pictures of it, there were three generations of females (grandma, mom, and daughter) playing in the backyard. The Baphomet statue is behind a fence, but it is impossible not to get a clear look at it when you are leaving the GMZ. Given how much attention is paid to regulating who comes and goes into this sacred space, and the thuggish authority “volunteers” have over the locals, it is impossible to believe the statue stands without tacit approval of the GMZ organizers. A few blocks from the GMZ a large Satan’s head hangs from the front of a house, so public praise of demons is not exactly foreign.
Not that explicit demon worship is necessary to show the GMZ is satanic. Everything at the GMZ is hatred and destruction: Hatred of law, of achievement, of decency. And remember this is a city where Somali women walk the streets like black banshees, and sodomites regularly win the favor of every politician, business, and most churches. George Floyd’s life did not matter, only his corpse does. The nebulous liberal eschatology of Justice and Equality long ago stopped being even a nominally constructive force. Only hatred can keep together the Coalition of the Fringes, and only a corpse could incarnate the many contradictions of the neoliberal religion. But as long as there are buildings to deface, children to inculcate, history to defile, the flames of hatred will burn and the ceremonies will continue.