Minneapolis celebrates George Floyd’s life after a ‘troubling, long year’

Residents gathered across the city to honor Floyd and other victims of police violence, and vowed to hold officers accountable

In downtown Minneapolis, the city that was plagued with tension during the Derek Chauvin murder trial last month, a celebration of George Floyd’s life was held less than a mile from where the white former Minneapolis officer was convicted of all three counts of his murder.

The event, organized by the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, was filled with shrieks from children as they leapt in bouncy houses while others filled the air with bubbles. The smells from a dozen food trucks penetrated the space as people danced and basked in the sun.

“I consider this a celebration of life and George Floyd,” said Theodia Henry as he sat with his family in downtown Minneapolis. “I haven’t seen this in a long time. It’s peaceful and people are dancing.”

Organizers and community members clapped and stepped to line dances as popular hip-hop and R&B songs blasted on the speakers.

On the stage in the middle of the field, members of the Floyd family, the Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, the former president of Minneapolis’ NAACP Nekima Levy Armstrong, and others spoke to the crowds of people.

George Floyd’s sister Bridgett speaks on stage between Floyd family attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton during a rally hosted by the George Floyd Global Memorial in Minneapolis.
George Floyd’s sister Bridgett speaks on stage between Floyd family attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton during a rally hosted by the George Floyd Global Memorial in Minneapolis. Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

“It’s been a troubling year, a long year,” Floyd’s sister Bridgett told the crowd. “But we made it. They say with God all things are possible and I’m a true believer in that … The love is very outpouring today. The love is here. George is here.”

Bridgett Floyd opted to sit out a family meeting with Joe Biden at the White House, saying the president must do more to expedite action on police reform legislation.

Floyd’s killing a year ago spurred dramatic protests across Minneapolis that spread to the rest of the US and eventually the world, calling for an end to racism and especially police brutality. Floyd’s dying plea, “I can’t breathe,” the same last words as Eric Garner, who was killed in New York in 2014, became a rallying call as tension between police forces and civilians came to a head.

“George Floyd wasn’t an act that was only about American justice, it was global,” said local resident Michael Jones, 59, as he sat at a table in his wheelchair. “There were protests around the world at the inhumanity of that officer with his knee on his neck.”

In the days leading up the day of remembrance, organizers across Minneapolis hosted a series of memorial events. As well as events in Minneapolis, a moment of silence was also held in New York and a rally was held in Los Angeles to honor Floyd. Globally, rallies took place in Greece, Spain and Germany to mark the day.

Despite the beaming sun and humidity, protesters bore the heat to pay their respect to victims and vow to hold police officers accountable.

Amid chants of “You can’t stop the revolution” and “I believe that we will win,” family members of Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, alongside family members of local victims of police brutality, marched with protesters.

The intersection of 38th and Chicago, also known as George Floyd Square where Floyd was killed, was set to host a candlelight vigil along with musical performances.

The intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on in Minneapolis.
The intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue on in Minneapolis. Photograph: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Many people expressed their disappointment with the lack of concrete change they have seen in policing in the year since Floyd died. Calls to defund, abolish or rebuild the police force have circulated across the United States.

“The only time we are going to see change is if we dig up the whole system, the whole United States system and rebuild it,” said Trinity Shaw, a 22 year-old activist who lives near the third police precinct that was burned down last May. “White supremacy is so ingrained in the system that there’s no way around it.”

While some people are doubtful that change will come, others said they feel a shift coming.

“We are on the move. Like when Martin Luther King said, ‘We’re on the move and change is going to come,’” Jones concluded.

Chauvin awaits sentencing, but faces up to 40 years in state prison for his murder charges. The three other fired officers involved in George Floyd’s death are set to go to trial next March.


Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘My brother got justice’: George Floyd’s family praises guilty verdict
Members of George Floyd’s family have become leaders in the movement sparked by his death

Gabrielle Canon in San Francisco

21, Apr, 2021 @1:45 AM

Article image
Minneapolis hopes for new beginning after verdict: ‘George Floyd is a movement’
After weeks of anxiety, the city celebrated with a victory march. ‘Tomorrow we get back to work,’ one organizer said

Lois Beckett in Minneapolis

21, Apr, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Minneapolis: journalists teargassed while covering George Floyd protests
Teargas fired ‘at point-blank range’ at group that identified themselves as journalists as police worked to impose curfew

Sam Levin in Los Angeles

31, May, 2020 @3:50 AM

Article image
Teen who filmed George Floyd’s death speaks out: ‘It changed me’
Darnella Frazier described the lasting trauma and grief she’s faced: ‘I used to shake so bad at night my mother had to rock me to sleep’

Lois Beckett

26, May, 2021 @12:22 AM

Article image
George Floyd's family sues Minneapolis over police killing
Lawsuit also names four officers involved in death that sparked protests across US and beyond

Adam Gabbatt in New York

15, Jul, 2020 @6:27 PM

Article image
Minneapolis on trial: how the year of George Floyd changed me and my city
A year to the day after the pandemic sent me back home from university, George Floyd’s killer goes on trial. It has been 12 months of upheaval, unrest and inspiration

Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

06, Mar, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Derek Chauvin: ex-officer convicted in George Floyd’s murder asks for new trial
Attorney Eric Nelson alleges prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at trial and says the verdict was contrary to law

Guardian staff and agency

04, May, 2021 @11:49 PM

Article image
Dispatch from Minneapolis: the night the city cracked down on George Floyd protests
Protesters who refused to obey the curfew Saturday faced teargas, flash bombs and baton rounds from police

Chris McGreal in Minneapolis

31, May, 2020 @7:26 AM

Article image
Minneapolis removes barricades to reopen George Floyd Square to traffic
Community members had turned the intersection where Floyd was murdered into a public mourning space

Oliver Laughland

03, Jun, 2021 @2:26 PM

Article image
Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder of George Floyd
Jury finds ex-Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, guilty on all counts

Chris McGreal, Lois Beckett, Oliver Laughland and Amudalat Ajasa in Minneapolis

21, Apr, 2021 @7:42 AM