Three years ago, George Floyd was murdered at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers. At the corner where he choked out his final words, his friends, family, a former teacher from Houston and a hundred other people gathered to remember him and what his death sparked across the globe.
“We recognize today as a day of enlightenment, If you take a look at all the deaths that have happened, we’ll go as far back as Emmitt Till, we recognize that when George was murdered, right there at that spot, there was a quickening that happened on this Earth, and it caused all of us, all mankind to recognize that we’re all one,” Floyd’s Cousin Thomas McLaurin said.
As those that knew Floyd memorialized him, they gave others that lost family to police violence a place for camaraderie, a place to say their names, and a place to find solace in community. To those who maintain 38th street and Chicago avenue, that’s what the corner means; to them, it is an act of protest against a consistent stream of violence that targets people based on the color of their skin.
And those protests come with demands. Twenty-four to be exact. Members of the community that has formed around George Floyd Square say they will not move until those demands are met. The demands include requiring Minneapolis police to carry private liability insurance, opening an investigation into the death of Damien Chambers, dropping charges against protestors arrested in 2016 and 2017, and including a rent-to-own option for new construction properties.
The memorial to Floyd came with live performances from the Minnesota Orchestra, a song by one of his relatives, and Brass Solidarity.
Along with the calls for healing and justice, there was also outrage at the conditions that made that healing necessary. Communities across the Twin Cities have said that police misconduct and the lack of transparency around policing in the cities has created a barrier between civilians and those who say they are there to protect and serve. That mistrust was shown once more when Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara and former Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo made a brief appearance at the square, which prompted people to yell at them to leave and chant George Floyd’s name until the pair left.
The city of Minneapolis passed a resolution earlier on Thursday recognizing the trauma Minneapolis residents faced at the hands of police, and Minneapolis police are now subject to a court-enforceable settlement agreement after settling a lawsuit brought forward by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.