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.
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.
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.
As we walked towards the still burning Wells Fargo we began to hear hundreds of people chanting.
"What’s his name?
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.
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.
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.
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.