MINNEAPOLIS — Marking three years since the murder of George Floyd, the community packed George Floyd Square at 38th and Chicago for a candlelight vigil on Thursday night with songs, prayers, and continued calls for change.
Floyd’s family, friends, and even a former teacher from Houston attended the vigil, which was organized by the George Floyd Global Memorial.
“I just have so much gratitude for my community. But, also, [we are] recognizing that this is a trauma anniversary. We’re going to feel all the feels,” said Jeanelle Austin, the executive director of the George Floyd Global Memorial. “It’s important for us to gather to remember. It’s important for us to pay our respects.”
The George Floyd Global Memorial will be holding events throughout the weekend, including a conference, a gala, and a “Rise and Remember Festival."
“Because community is the antidote to racism. That is how we are going to get to the other side of justice,” Austin said. “We break bread together, we love each other, we share music, we share art, we share joy and laughter. This is what gets us to justice. This is George Floyd Square.”
During Thursday night’s event at 38th and Chicago, current Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara and former chief Medaria Arradondo briefly entered George Floyd Square to attend the vigil – drawing anger from some members of the community who told them they were “not welcome.” O'Hara and Arradondo observed the events for a few minutes before leaving together.
“It was very important for me, even from a soulful, spiritual point, for me to be here today,” Arradondo said. “What goes through my mind, being out here, is just… how we went from one of the most horrific tragedies in modern times, in terms of policing, to a community that has been so resilient, so hopeful, and is really uplifting [Floyd’s] name.”
O’Hara added: “This is just a very sobering moment for me personally, because I have definitely learned first-hand that there’s so many residents of our city that have just been so deeply traumatized, and so many members of our police department that are also traumatized by everything that has happened here. I think it’s important that we remember why we are here and the work that we must continue to do going forward."
Earlier Thursday, Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis hosted a separate event marking the three-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder.
Dozens of people filled the pews to listen to a performance by Grammy Award-winning “Sounds of Blackness,” followed by a speech by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, a longtime civil rights advocate from Chicago.
“I think that, within my heart and my spirit, is a combination of lament, a combination of anger, and a combination of hopefulness,” Dr. Moss said. “You bring the lament, the anger, and the hopefulness together and there’s the possibility of creating a new song for this yet-to-be United States of America, this democratic experiment that we are trying to craft as human beings. And I think today points us in that direction as we look toward yesterday – and also – toward tomorrow.”
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