Protests, vigils, and rallies are taking place around the country to mark one year since George Floyd was killed by a former Minneapolis cop.
One year ago today, George Floyd, 46, was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer outside the store where he bought his last pack of cigarettes. His murder, captured on a teenager’s cellphone video and seen around the world, reenergized the Black Lives Matter movement and ignited massive protests for police reform and racial justice amid a pandemic.
The yearlong movement of dissent, rage, and grief over the numerous killings of Black people by law enforcement sought to fundamentally reshape policing in the US and address structural racism.
Some state and local legislatures have cut police budgets and passed laws limiting violent police tactics. Last month, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering Floyd in a rare conviction of a police officer.
But even as Floyd’s family hoped the verdict would be a turning point in the country’s history for police accountability, cops continued to kill people and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act stalled in the Senate, missing President Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline for signing it into law.
“It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,” Bridgett Floyd, Floyd’s sister, said at a Minneapolis rally on Sunday, which was part of a series of events and actions organized by the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in remembrance of his death. “It has been very frustrating for me and my family. For your life to change within a blink of an eye. I still don’t know why.”
Floyd’s family, including Bridgett Floyd, his daughter, Gianna Floyd, her mother Roxie Washington, and Floyd’s brothers and nephew were set to meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers Tuesday to push for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
They will also meet the president at the White House on Tuesday.
The meeting will be private so that Biden can “have a real conversation and preserve that with the family,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
“He has a genuine relationship with them. And the courage and grace of this family — and especially his daughter, Gianna — has really stuck with the president… So, he’s eager to listen to their perspectives and hear what they have to say during this meeting,” Psaki said.
Marches, rallies, vigils, prayers, and protests were planned across the country on Monday and Tuesday, many of which were centered around the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck until he took his last breath.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a proclamation asking everyone in the state to unite in a moment of silence at 1 p.m. local time on Tuesday for 9 minutes and 29 seconds to honor Floyd and “every person whose life has been cut short due to systems of racism and discrimination in Minnesota.”
In downtown Minneapolis, the community will gather at Commons Park on Tuesday afternoon to commemorate Floyd in a “Celebration of Life” event through Black culture, history, art, support of local businesses, and performances by award-winning performers.
People paid their respects at George Floyd Square, the memorial marking the place he was killed a year ago. The scene was briefly disrupted after gunshots were heard on Tuesday morning and one person was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, the Associated Press reported.
In New York City, police took a number of people into custody after a group of demonstrators, including mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan, knelt for 9 minutes and 29 seconds blocking the Holland Tunnel entrance on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.
“Stay in the streets in honor of George Floyd,” read a flyer from the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, urging people to join a Tuesday march from City Hall to demand “transformative justice in honor of Brother George and every life stolen by the police.”
In Dallas, a social justice nonprofit planned a solidarity march and rally as part of the George Floyd Week and in Philadelphia, faith leaders called for a citywide prayer for healing and reform at 9:25 p.m. Vigils and rallies were also scheduled to take place in Chicago, Atlanta, and Seattle among other cities.
The George Floyd Memorial Foundation called on people to contact local officials and support legislation as part of a “Virtual Day of Action.”
Floyd’s family with their attorney Ben Crump on Tuesday announced the creation of the George Floyd Community Benevolence Fund to benefit businesses and organizations serving the Minneapolis community where Floyd was killed.
Prominent political leaders and activists, including former president Barack Obama, paid tribute to Floyd on social media.
During Sunday’s remembrance rally in Minneapolis, civil rights leader Al Sharpton pressed lawmakers to pass the police federal reform bill named after Floyd which restricts racial profiling by police, makes it easier to convict officers for misconduct in federal cases, and limits qualified immunity which protects cops from civil lawsuits, among other measures.
“George Floyd is not going down in history as a martyr. George Floyd is going down in history as a game-changer,” Sharpton said. “When you went down on his neck, you broke the neck of police misconduct in this country.”
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