MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Members of George Floyd’s family, and others who lost loved ones to police encounters, joined activists and citizens in Minneapolis on Sunday for a march that was one of several events planned nationwide to mark the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.
Hundreds of people gathered for the rally in front of the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis where the Chauvin trial concluded a month ago, many carrying signs with pictures of Floyd, Philando Castile and other Black men killed by police.
Amid chants of “no justice, no peace!” and “Say his name,” Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter watched alongside a dozen of Floyd’s family members as speakers called for justice for families of Black men slain by police.
“It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,” Floyd’s sister Bridgett told the crowd on Sunday. “It has been very frustrating for me and my family for our lives to change in the blink of an eye — I still don’t know why.”
Through the George Floyd Memorial Foundation that she started, she’s helped other Black families, which touches on what this rally was about: George Floyd’s legacy.
Tuesday will mark one year since Floyd, who was Black, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded for air. Chauvin, who is white, has since been convicted of murder and manslaughter for Floyd’s death, which sparked worldwide protests and calls for change in policing in the U.S.
Speakers at the event included several local activists, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who called on the U.S. Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The legislation, which would bring about the most significant changes to policing on the federal level, would ban the use of chokeholds and establish a national database of police misconduct.
“We want something coming out of Washington. We want something that will change federal law,” Sharpton said. “There’s been an adjournment on justice for too long. It’s time for them to vote and make this the law.”
Sharpton said the rally was not anti-white or anti-police. It was “anti-wrong” and “anti-viciousness.”
Speakers called upon politicians in the audience — including Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith — to take action, like with passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The police reform bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Families of victims of other high-profile violence were also in downtown Minneapolis to show support and solidarity to the Floyds, including Wanda Johnson, Oscar Grant’s mom.
“As this family is going forward we must walk alongside of them. We must encourage them. We must stay in the fight with them,” Johnson said.
Eric Garner’s mom, Gwen Carr, was also on hand.
“That verdict is not enough,” Carr said.
Emmett Till’s cousin Deborah Watts, who pushed for legislation in his name, was also on hand.
The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Floyd was born, is hosting a series of events in Minneapolis this weekend and early next week to honor Floyd on the anniversary. Those events include the rally and a march downtown on Sunday that will be led by Floyd’s family and other families of victims of police violence.
The nonprofit was launched by Floyd’s siblings in September 2020 to help combat racial inequities in Black and brown communities in their brother’s honor.
Other events in Minneapolis ahead of the anniversary include a virtual “day of action” that encourages people to organize remotely and two panels with the families and other activists on Monday, followed by a community festival and candlelight vigil on Tuesday.
In New York on Sunday, Floyd’s brother, Terrence, attended a Brooklyn gathering in his brother’s memory organized by Sharpton and told supporters not to forget his brother or victims of racist violence.
“If you keep my brother’s name ringing, you’re going to keep everybody else’s name ringing,” Terrence Floyd said. “Breonna Taylor, Sean Bell, Ahmaud Arbery, you could go through the whole list. There’s a lot of them.”
Executive director Jacari Harris said the group has received donations from the Minneapolis Foundation, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and athletic shoe and apparel retailer Finish Line, among others. Despite large grants from corporations and other organizations, Harris the average donation to the nonprofit was $47.
Harris said the group has also funded an initiative in Fayetteville to help reduce homelessness, a scholarship program for law school students and an internship program at Texas A&M University, where Floyd went to school.
President Joe Biden set a May 25 deadline for passing the bipartisan George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but it doesn’t appear they will meet that deadline. Police reform advocates, however, say a missed deadline is less important than getting a comprehensive bill passed.
The president will host the Floyd family at the White House on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of his death.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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Author: WCCO | CBS Minnesota