George Floyds family gathers in Minneapolis to mark one year since his death
MINNEAPOLIS - Members of George Floyds family took to the streets Sunday to mark the one-year anniversary of his death, marching with hundreds of people, including activists and others who have lost loved ones to the hands of police, in the first of multiple events planned across the country to remember him and rally for racial justice.
Several of Floyd's siblings and his children returned to the steps of the Hennepin County Government Center, where just weeks ago a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death and where three other former officers charged in his killing are set to go on trial next year.
While many praised Chauvin's conviction, calling it a first step toward "justice," the family spoke of enduring loss and continued questions about why Floyd died.
"I still don't know why," said Bridgett Floyd, his younger sister, who now runs a memorial foundation in her brother's name. Taking the stage at a rally before the march, she spoke of the family's pain and how their lives had changed in the "blink of an eye."
"It's been a long year. It's been a painful year," Bridgett Floyd said. "That officer doesn't understand what he took from us."
Floyd was remembered a year after his death sent millions across the country into the streets in some of the largest sustained protests in American history. Minneapolis, the city at the center of that movement, continues to struggle with its own reckoning over policing and racial justice.
His younger sister joined other speakers - including the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Floyd family - who said the fight for justice continues, even with Chauvin's conviction.
Speaking before an audience that included several elected officials, including Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, both Democrats, Crump called out dozens of names of other Black men and women who had been killed by police, including Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was shot by a suburban Minneapolis police officer during a traffic stop last month during Chauvin's trial.
"We are better than this, America. We need to have a more just America!" Crump said.
He pointed to the disproportionately violent response of police across the country when it comes to Black people, compared with White suspects, citing several recent cases where Black men have been shot at and killed while running away from the police.
"What is it about a Black man running away from the police that it is the most dangerous thing in America?" Crump asked, looking directly toward Frey and other elected officials who sat nearby.
He and Sharpton called for additional police policy changes nationwide, including the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act - which has been approved by the U.S. House but has languished in the Senate. Floyd's family has been invited to the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Joe Biden, which Sharpton described as a "nice" gesture, but not enough.
"George Floyd should not go down in history as someone with a knee on his neck, but as someone who broke the chain of police brutality and illegality," Sharpton said.
Floyd died May 25, 2020, when he was restrained, handcuffed and facedown, on a South Minneapolis street during an investigation in a 911 call about a fake $20 bill that had been passed at a local market. Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck and back as Floyd begged for breath and ultimately went limp while two other officers - Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane - restrained Floyd's back and legs. A fourth officer, Tou Thao, held back bystanders who sought to intervene.
Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao, who are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter, are scheduled to go on trial in March. All four are also facing federal civil rights charges in the case.