A Year Without George Floyd

TW: Police brutality, death, violence, racism

One year ago today on Monday May 25th, 2020 George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

An undated picture of George Floyd standing in a dark blazer and slacks. He is holding his hands together in front of his waist as he poses for a nice picture.

The impact of his murder was felt all across the world and brought new attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. It became hard to ignore such a blatant abuse of power and shed a bright light on the need for reformation of our policing systems and institutional racism ingrained in our cultures across the globe. Kyle and I live right south of Minneapolis and were able to witness firsthand the aftermath of George’s legacy.

A street corner with an electrical box that has 'No justice no peace' spray-painted in red. It has three lines underlining the word peace to show emphasis.

We drove into the city that following Sunday to help clean up the impact of the riots that followed his death and support protesters that were downtown. We had no idea how much it would change our lives. We are writing this post to share what we saw, what we have learned, and how we can all do more to make sure that George’s death will be remembered as a turning point in action towards police reformation and the abolition of institutional racism.

In the days after George’s death my family and I were very concerned for what was happening around our cities and wanted to find something tangible that we could do to help. The weekend after, my mom found a man on Facebook LIVE gathering supplies such as water, masks, hand sanitizer and snacks to give to those protesting downtown. We immediately ran to the bulk store and grabbed what we could before heading downtown to meet at the Wells Fargo next to the police station. We had no idea what to expect but it was eye-opening.

People helping to redirect the last of the water pouring out of the front of the Wells Fargo building.

Looking through the window of the Wells Fargo building, plenty of fire damage can be seen to have collapsed the ceiling and rushing water can be heard.
The inside of the Wells Fargo drive through is unrecognizable due to the fire.

People marching through the street with signs in front of the heavily guarded police station. Two police officers stand on the top of the station behind a makeshift barrier.

People march in the street chanting George Floyd’s name.

As we walked towards the still burning Wells Fargo we began to hear hundreds of people chanting.

"What’s his name?

“George Floyd!”

It wasn’t until we walked in closer to the police station that I truly emotionally grasped the moment in history that we were witnessing and I began to sob. I couldn’t believe the immense amount of privledge that my family and I had, to be able to go through our lives without worrying about racially motivated attacks or police brutality. The privilege that I had to think in school “I wonder what I would have done during the 1960’s civil rights movement”. My classmates of color never had to imagine, their older relatives lived through that, and they live in the aftermath on a daily basis. Everything that I had learned about racial stress in public health school, every conversation I had had with my black friends about police brutality, and every black history lesson I had learned was relevant and standing right in front of me.

Burning Post Office across the street. Black marks cover the bricks outside the busted windows where the smoke was billowing the night before. The roof is collapsed and the letters designating the post office are beginning to fall off the building. Fellow citizens and volunteers are seen collecting broken glass and other debris.

Many people who were less empathetic to the struggles of black and brown folks moved to condemn the protests and riots that happened across the world stating things such as “Why did they have to steal from Target?” or “Look at these people burning down the Post Office, what monsters!” Some people I saw even went as far as to call the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist movement”. While we would never promote violence or destruction of property ourselves, these viewpoints serve to negate the fact that a man was murdered in the street in broad daylight and show that institutional racism is so prevalent in our society and governmental activities that people are willing to overlook them to maintain a sense of normalcy.

What remains of some people’s mail is just charred paper and the building is still smoking.

Another picture of the burning Post Office across the street. There is large writing in white spray paint saying 'We heart our postal patrons! We will be back to serve you. There is 3 lines underlining the word will for emphasis and there is a simple drawing of an envelope underneath'. Fellow citizens and volunteers are seen collecting broken glass and other debris.

While we were there we struggled to find ways to help, as so many people had come out to clean up. We picked up debris where we could and spoke to people there to find where more hands were needed. It was beautiful to see the diversity of people there brushing the water coming out of the Wells Fargo building along the side of the street, walking around with food and water, and holding up signs of support for George Floyd at the corner of West 31st and Nicollet. We were eventually directed to a local restaurant that was helping to redistribute supplies across the city. So many people were there to help that there was a 3hr wait to help deliver necessities like diapers, water, food, and masks. After spending the afternoon helping where we could we came home with a new sense of understanding.

We continue to clean up trash and debris on the sidewalk as we head back to our car. Facing away from the camera, Kyle is standing on the left with a trash bag and Lexi is on the right looking for more trash to collect.

Before, it was hard for us to imagine where we fit in as allies to the movement and where we could help. After, it became clearer to us that everyone can do something. It doesn’t have to be organized, it doesn’t have to be tangible, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. All we have to do is continue to educate ourselves, look for opportunities to help, and have the courage to advocate for those around us do better. We hope that by hearing our experiences we can motivate you to see the change in yourself and in your community. Here is a post we made with some resources to help you begin this journey and we are happy to help you with questions or suggestions. Thank you.