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Inside the 'Documenting a Reckoning: The Murder of George Floyd' exhibit at Mill City Museum

The exhibit — on display at Mill City Museum — follows the aftermath of George Floyd's murder up until Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — On the two-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, many are reflecting on that time and its impact on the world. 

"When I didn't have words to describe what was going on, a picture could do that and a picture can help people tell their stories," said Rachel Austin, who lives a few blocks away from George Floyd Square. 

Austin is one of the photographers featured in an exhibit at Mill City Museum that follows the aftermath of Floyd's murder up until Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict. 

Credit: Photo by Rachel Austin
Hezekiah Austin plays in the alley on Memorial Day 2020.

Austin's photo starts the exhibit, "Documenting A Reckoning: The Murder of George Floyd," presented by the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. 

The photo is of Austin's son, Hezekiah Austin, who was six years old at the time. He's barefoot, with an American flag on his shoulders, playing in the alley. 

"I remember posting it on social media. The irony that we didn't know at the time was that just three block over and a few hours later that George Floyd would be murdered," Austin said. "That same level of innocence that existed in 2020 on that day and in that photo, it's different today and it doesn't look the same. The kid next to me is eight now instead of six and he's seen a lot and he grew up really quick in the last two years." 

Rachel's husband, Butchy Austin, added, "It was a bizarre paradigm where you're like... here we are celebrating Memorial Day, celebrating the country and those that died and fought and then me realizing that they fought and died for a lot but there's still more growth... we haven't arrived yet. We're not at the level of freedom that they fought for." 

The exhibit features professional, community and student photographers. Three jurors reviewed more than 500 photos submitted by 81 photographers and narrowed it down to 54 for display. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Three jurors reviewed more than 500 photos submitted by 81 photographers and narrowed it down to 54 for display.

It includes work from freelance street photographer Gene Garvin. 

"Being from Los Angeles, I was actually living in Europe in 1992 when Rodney King was beaten but I came back to southern California right when the verdict happened," Garvin recalled. "But this was before I was a photographer; this was before cell phones with cameras. We couldn't document the way in which we document now." 

Garvin's photo on display is of a man outside the 3rd Precinct with his hands in the air. 

"When this happened, I knew I had to get out there and document," he said. 

Butchy Austin saw his neighborhood become the epicenter of a movement. 

"In the aftermath, you're still trying to find joy. So a lot of these photos represent both sides of it," Butchy Austin said. They represent the pain, the trauma, the struggle, then they also represent some of the more joyous moments that we had trying to forge community in the wake of such a tragic event." 

"Documenting A Reckoning: The Murder of George Floyd" will be on display at Mill City Museum through June 5. It is free to check out. 

According to Mill City Museum, visitors looking for a quieter viewing experience may wish to avoid these busy times:

Thursdays and Fridays, 10 am–2:15 pm
May 29, June 4, 3 pm–5 pm

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