Tuesday marked one year since the May 25, 2020 police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Several events across the country and the city took place to remember the incident that ignited a nationwide racial reckoning and calls for police reforms.
The infamous cellphone video of former police officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on Floyd’s neck during an arrest for more than nine minutes was forever cemented as a dark moment in American history. Last month, justice was served as Chauvin was convicted on two counts of murder and is facing up to 40 years in prison.
Immediately following the murder last year, protesters took to the streets around the world to voice their outrage over Floyd’s death. Screams of “no justice, no peace!” and “Black Lives Matter!” were heard with around-the-clock news coverage of mass demonstrations.
On Tuesday in Minneapolis, several community organizations and churches held the “Rise & Remember George Floyd Global Memorial Celebration” at the intersection where Floyd was murdered, which was renamed “George Floyd Square.” A festival was held celebrating his life followed by a concert honoring families who have lost loved ones to police killings. A candlelight vigil was held in the evening.
Floyd’s family met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Tuesday. The meeting was held privately with no media allowed. Speaking to reporters outside of the White House after the meeting, family members said passing the George Floyd Policing Act, which would usher in nationwide police reforms, would honor Floyd’s memory.
“We’re just thankful for what’s going on and we just want the George Floyd Policing Act to be passed,” Floyd’s brother Philonise said. “If you can make federal laws to protect the bird, which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”
In a statement released by the White House, Harris said while Chauvin’s conviction was a step in the right direction, more needs to be done.
“The verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of murder provided some measure of justice,” she said. “But one verdict does not address the persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force. It does not take away the Floyd family’s pain, nor the pain of all those families who have grieved the untimely loss of a loved one.”
Locally, politicians, community and faith leaders joined Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Action Network in Harlem on Tuesday. Leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, kneeled for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in memory of Floyd and emphasized the need for the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act to pass in the U.S. Senate.
Last Sunday, Sharpton led a rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall with Floyd’s brother Terrence. That same day, Sharpton traveled to Minnesota where he joined Floyd’s sister Bridgette for a rally and march through downtown Minneapolis.
“A conviction of Chauvin is not enough,” Sharpton said. “We cannot keep going hoping we get the right evidence, hoping we get the right jury. We must have legislation that defines and refines what police excessive force is all about. And it must come from the federal level so states cannot opt out and go whichever way they want.”
On Tuesday night, several organizations including Communities United for Police Reform and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement led a march, starting at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in Floyd’s honor. The groups demanded the firing of NYPD officers who have killed people and that de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council defund the NYPD.
“We are taking to the streets to remind our communities that we have a right to be safe in our neighborhoods,” said Malcolm X Grassroots Movement lead organizer Sala Cyril. “We have a right to be safe in our homes. We have a right to be safe in our bodies. Being Black doesn’t change that right. George Floyd was murdered as an ongoing part of police terror. “