Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA – In the kind of low humidity and sunny spring day that Minnesota people live in, George Floyd Square is swarming with local residents and visitors from across the country. They’re not just here to make Floyd’s cry murder by a Minneapolis police officer today a year ago, but also to celebrate his life.
“We were invited by one of the organizers to be here and celebrate George’s life,” John Williams, director of the Center for Reconciliation of Fellowship Church in Monrovia, California, told Al Jazeera.
“The celebration for me is a memory so that his life is not erased so that what happened is not erased,” said Williams, who came to Minneapolis with members of his church to be at the epicenter of the last year’s events. “This is one of the first times that, nationally, there has been a police officer who has been held accountable, but even with that there is still no real justice. George is not here.”
With simplicity in the center, as people kneel in moments of silence in front of Floyd’s mural in front of Cup Foods, where he allegedly tried to spend a fake $ 20 bill that, in a matter of minutes, resulted in the loss of his life, the square still has buoyancy.
Various types of music fill the air, from R&B and jazz on one edge of the memorial to the notes of the indigenous dance ceremonies on the other. The tasty smoke from the grills that cooks the lunch fits the sky like drops of liquid shrapnel dusting the spectators resting in a portion of shadow that became the territory of a war zone in motion of guns for children armed with Super Soakers.
The booths that offer everything from community padding to lemonade line the edge of the square while a bubble machine loads the air with soapy spheres that four-year-old Amira dresses in a colorful pink swimsuit to satisfy the heat of the day.
She and her father, Shaun, live a few blocks away and stopped at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where count today with one year racial injustice and police violence accelerated.
“It’s been amazing that a year has passed,” he told Al Jazeera. “It’s nice, it’s quiet. People are here celebrating George Floyd’s life. “
Long way to go
Despite the serene and convivial commemoration, the scene was marred by violence earlier in the day. Shots were fired Tuesday morning near a block in George Floyd Square and police said a man believed to be involved in the shooting was later hospitalized in critical condition with a gunshot wound, the report said. Associated Press news agency.
Activists and community members say there is still a long way to go, not just to get justice, but to process the ongoing pain of the community.
“This is a sacred space. It’s sacred because people made it sacred, ”says Williams. He hopes the evening vigil will be more moderate. When asked about the statements of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey about his intentions to reopen the plaza, “they should wait until people finish mourning and mourning because this is a process.” said Williams. “I think there will be a lot of resistance, as there should be, to allow these people to really mourn and cry.”
Further down, the two-block stretch of George Floyd Square is Sam, who decided to come to the plaza from nearby Hopkins to see what happens to himself rather than watching him on television.
Sitting on a folding chair in the shadow of his wife, Sam said the past year has been really chaotic and induces paranoia.
“When you take me out… I know what will happen. I hope and pray that I can get to jail, but they could kill me. It’s a pattern, “he says. “If agents aren’t trained to deal with people of color and people with illness or disorder or anything, then you have a job of the wrong merits.”
Gloria, a 70-year-old woman, is also sitting in a grass chair, but away from home in the square where she has lived for the past 27 years. The sidewalk panels are painted with the colors of the Jamaican flag. “I see it all,” she says. He says he witnessed Floyd’s murder from the bus stop across the street after buying lottery tickets.
Cooking for the community often, as it is today, preparing curry chicken, chopped chicken, fried fish and rice and beans for passersby. He hopes to be in the same place the rest of the day and most of the summer, just steps from a flower-decorated memorial where he says his son-in-law was murdered years ago. He still doesn’t know who was responsible.
Within walking distance of Gloria’s house, Signe Harriday and Maria Asp with the Million Artists Movement, a group of black and brown artist activists, are sitting in lawn chairs under a canvas umbrella full of duvets near the south intersection of the square. Harriday and Asp have been leading their project of leaving the community in the square since last year. Organizers have asked them to be present today.
“Give people the opportunity in times of pain and trauma and sometimes the joy of sitting down and putting your hands on something and translating how you feel into a quilt square that then joins another quilt square touched by another member of the community, etc. goes, “Harriday told Al Jazeera. “Quilts are ultimately a visual representation of the ways we want to love and support each other,” he added.
“It also connects us,” Asp said. “With everything that has been going on, people feel absolutely disconnected and what we want and want is the connection and the relationship. Most of these duvets here, ”he adds, waving the fabric walls around him,“ were all created right here! These are the community that sits down and takes a moment to put their feelings on the web. ”
From making bedspreads to being in the square today, it helps to “know that you are part of something that is bigger than yourself,” Asp said.