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Minneapolis, US honor memory of George Floyd

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-05-25 10:54

In an aerial view, A Black Lives Matter mural stretches across a city block in front of Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

On May 25 two years ago, a black teenager captured on video what would spark hundreds of thousands of people of all races to march in protests across the US and around the world with the phrase "Black Lives Matter" on their lips and posters.

Now, two years after the video by Darnella Frazier, who was 17 at the time, showed the murder of George Floyd, cities across the US, including Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the 46-year-old black man lived and died, will commemorate his death on Wednesday.

The George Floyd Global Memorial (GFGM), a nonprofit formed by his family in Minneapolis, will hold a four-day event — "Rise and Remember" — starting on Wednesday in and around George Floyd Square.

It was at that intersection white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds as he lay handcuffed on his stomach, pleading and begging for his life and saying, "I can't breathe."

Floyd's death galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement, and people from all racial backgrounds vowed to fight for racial justice in protests in more than 100 US cities and 60 countries, including the UK, France and Kenya.

Malik Rasheed, 49, a black man from New York, told China Daily: "(George Floyd's murder) wasn't that surprising to me. We all know the police are heavy handed when it comes to black men. Watching what happened to him kind of confirmed it. Even now, it doesn't feel like much has changed."

"George Floyd Square and the George Floyd Global Memorial (GFGM) were built by members of the community who wanted to preserve the site where my nephew lost his life," Angela Harrelson, Floyd's aunt who lives in Minnesota, said in a statement. "We must not let his death be his last word."

GFGM was established by Harrelson, her cousin Paris Stevens and Jeanelle Austin to bring together Floyd's family and the local community to "preserve more than 5,000 creative expressions of pain [art] that mark the place where Floyd took his last breaths''.

On Wednesday evening, family and friends will attend a candlelight vigil at the "Say Their Names'' Memorial. The next day, "Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence'' will honor the families of victims of police violence.

In 2021, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in a state trial and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison.

In December 2021, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges linked to Floyd's death and the restraint of a teenager in a separate incident.

In February, former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who helped to restrain Floyd, were found guilty of violating Floyd's civil rights by a jury in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kueng and Thao will go back to court in June on state charges.

Earlier this month, Lane pleaded guilty to a state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Philonise Floyd, 41, Floyd's younger brother, paid tribute to his sibling in an April 10 Instagram post. "The dead cannot cry out for justice. It's a duty of the living to do so for them," he wrote.

The family's fight for justice ignited fierce debate over whether police reform was needed in Minneapolis and America.

In April, an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that the Minneapolis Police Department used racially discriminatory policing.

It also revealed that police used excessive force on black people at a higher rate than their white counterparts, even though black people make up 19 percent of the city's population.

Carmen, 36, an African American woman from New York who didn't want to give her family name, told China Daily: "It's just too much. It makes me emotional thinking about how he died even now. It's just really sad. I'm glad his family got justice. But it's going to happen again. I just don't think anything is going to stop police from killing other black men."

On Wednesday, with relatives of Floyd at his side, President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order aimed at reforming federal policing. The order will instruct federal agencies to create a national registry of police officers who have been fired for misconduct.

It also aims to look into use-of-force policies, use grants to enable state and local police to tighten restrictions on no-knock warrants and chokeholds and prevent the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies, according to media reports.

The order is the result of months of negotiations among White House officials, civil rights groups and police organizations. The administration began working on executive action after "The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act" passed in the House last year but didn't get through the Senate.

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