George Floyd’s family and activists mark anniversary of murder

‘It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,’ sister tells Minneapolis gathering

People raise their fists as they march during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday. Photograph:  Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

People raise their fists as they march during an event in remembrance of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday. Photograph: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

 

Members of George Floyd’s family have joined activists and citizens in Minneapolis for a march to mark the first anniversary of his murder.

Hundreds of people gathered for the rally in front of the courthouse in Minneapolis where ex-police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Mr Floyd’s murder a month ago, many carrying signs with pictures of Mr Floyd, Philando Castile and other black men killed by officers.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey and St Paul mayor Melvin Carter watched alongside a dozen of Mr Floyd’s family members as speakers called for justice for families of black men killed by police.

Mr Floyd’s sister Bridgett told the crowd: “It has been a long year. It has been a painful year. 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.”

Tuesday will mark one year since Mr Floyd died after Chauvin held his knee on his neck. Chauvin, who is white, has since been convicted of murder and manslaughter over Mr Floyd’s death, which sparked worldwide protests and calls for change in policing in the US.

Speakers at the event included several local activists, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, and the Rev Al Sharpton, who called on the US 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 choke-holds and establish a national database of police misconduct.

“We want something coming out of Washington. We want something that will change federal law,” Mr Sharpton said.

“There’s been an adjournment on justice for too long. It’s time for them to vote and make this the law.”

The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a non-profit based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Mr Floyd was born, is hosting a series of events in Minneapolis to honour the anniversary of the death.

The non-profit was launched by Mr Floyd’s siblings in September 2020 to help combat racial inequities in black and brown communities in their brother’s honour.

Other events in Minneapolis ahead of the anniversary include a virtual “day of action” that encourages people to organise 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, Mr Floyd’s brother, Terrence, attended a Brooklyn gathering in his brother’s memory organised by the Rev 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 organisations, Mr Harris said the average donation to the non-profit was $47 (€38).

Mr Harris said the group has also funded an initiative in Fayetteville to help reduce homelessness, a scholarship programme for law school students and an internship scheme at Texas A&M University, where Mr Floyd went to school. – AP