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In George Floyd Square, optimism and frustration on anniversary of police killing – Twin Cities

By on May 26, 2022 0
Surrounded by his family, Terrence Floyd, center, looks up at the sky while standing in front of a memorial headstone for his brother George Floyd during a candlelight vigil honoring his brother in Minneapolis on Wednesday, 25 May 2022. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)

It started like any other day for Billy Jones, who delivered meals as a DoorDash operator, when he ran into an old acquaintance who he recalled was “doing something that, I thought, would get him in trouble.”

Jones, a computer-educated entrepreneur, urged his friend to use better judgment.

Moments later, he spotted four Minneapolis police officers holding a black man to the ground. He turned on his smartphone’s video recording device under the mistaken assumption that his friend had been apprehended, only to move on after about 60 seconds when he discovered he was wrong.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that Jones realized he had recorded a minute in the slow motion murder of George Floyda black man whose death below the knee of a white Minneapolis officer two years ago on Wednesday would reverberate across the country and the world.

“NOT NEW FOR ME”

Seeing Minneapolis officers manhandling a suspect “is nothing new to me,” said Jones, who opened the For Real Coffeehouse in March just across the street from where Floyd was killed in south Minneapolis. “I’m not saying all cops are bad, but that’s typical of my world.”

Fueled by a palpable mix of shared grief, optimism and frustration, hundreds of people gathered Wednesday at George Floyd Square, the site of Floyd’s death outside Cup Foods Market at Chicago Avenue and 38th Street .

A sign declaring that the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago is George Perry Floyd Square is unveiled in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)
A sign declaring that the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago is George Perry Floyd Square is unveiled in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)

Many came to grieve and demand greater police accountability, or to show solidarity with residents who rallied to guard the square an arts-focused memorial to Floyd, who was 46 and unemployed at the following the pandemic when he was killed on May 25. 2020.

“So many people here come to the same conclusion – it could be me, my brother, my cousin – as opposed to ‘It’s just another guy, let me get on with my life,'” said Paul Johnson, a psychotherapist who raised her neighborhood kids and recently got involved with Communities United Against Police Brutality.

Johnson added: “His life, we will not allow it to be in vain. If we can somehow turn these streets into safer streets from the police, that would be wonderful. »

GEORGE FLOYD SQUARE

Louie Carl and his daughter Chamryn Carl from Northern Arizona spent the weekend at a convention focused on Native food and nutrition. Rather than drive home, they decided to attend the vigil Wednesday night at 38th and Chicago, officially dedicated at “George Perry Floyd Square” with a memorial sign. Floyd’s brother, Terrence, was among the family members to attend.

“We have to help each other,” said Chamryn Carl, who is Hopi and Navajo, noting that many Native Americans in the Flagstaff area have suffered abuse from police. “We treat the same treatment at home.”

But with poor cell phone coverage on the reservation, Louie Carl said, there is no video to document the evidence.

A family bows their heads in prayer during a candlelight vigil honoring George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)
A family bows their heads in prayer during a candlelight vigil honoring George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)

Throughout George Floyd Square, murals, colorful wreaths and art installations list the names of black men, women and children across the country who died in dubious, if not notorious, clashes with the font: Philando Castile. Breona Taylor. Ayana Jones. Alton Sterling. Floyd.

In a nearby green space, artists have assembled a sort of graveyard with dozens of tombstone-like canvases bearing the names, ages and cities of the dead, with Twin Cities residents Castile and Floyd at the front.

Subsequent events in Minneapolis include a Thursday gathering of families of loved ones who died in police interactions and a Friday fundraising gala aimed at raising funds to preserve offerings left by protesters and mourners at the 38th and Chicago. An all-day festival and crossroads concert are also scheduled for Saturday.

“Today we honor two years since George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement earlier Wednesday. “Every day since, we remember the life and legacy of George Floyd as a friend, father, brother and loved one. His name has been heard in every corner of our world.

Floyd died after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and pleaded he couldn’t breathe. Police were called after he was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods.

Chauvin is serving 22 and a half years in prison after being convicted of murder and manslaughter last year. The ex-officer also pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights in a federal case, where he now faces a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years.

Former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are due to stand trial on state charges in June. Thomas Lane pleaded guilty last week to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s murder, months after the three former officers were found guilty in February of federal charges of willful violation of Floyd’s rights.

BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES

If there’s been a change in how Minneapolis police treat black suspects, and black men in particular, “I haven’t seen it,” said Jones, who nonetheless hopes his new cafe will serve starting point to bring new capital to the historically black neighborhood where he grew up.

Disney Cafe co-owner Foote, a real estate broker, recalled the day Jones casually mentioned that he had found a location for his dream cafe business. It wasn’t until she Googled the address that she realized she had landed in virtually the same location as Floyd’s murder. She was caught off guard, then pondered the symbolism.

In the two years since Floyd’s death, new storefronts have gradually begun to open in spaces left vacant by the riots and arson that broke out after his death, or the economic downturn that followed. Like For Real Coffeehouse, the Finish Touch clothing store, Hair by Naya salon and Just Turkey restaurant proudly advertise themselves as black-owned businesses on the block adjacent to Cup Foods.

“I couldn’t put that anywhere but here,” said Foote, who considers his cafe a beacon of black enterprise.

“A POSITIVE THING”

At the cafe’s official opening on Wednesday, Jones’ mother, Colnese Hendon, arrived to sign copies of her new memoir, ‘Blend In or Fade Out’, about her childhood as a multiracial adoptee of parents. blacks in south Minneapolis.

A mix of black, white, Asian and Latino customers ordered coffees and lattes, with more than one shirt-wearing customer identifying as allied to “Black Lives Matter,” or as gay or trans.

It was the kind of event that brought a smile to TeNaya Rhines, a former south Minneapolis resident who now owns a home in the northern suburbs.

“People used to play chess here earlier,” Rhines said, noting that she felt nothing but optimism. “It promotes art and conversations and that’s a positive thing. I don’t have that at Fridley. I always come back to the ‘hood. That’s where the love is. … It’s a thrilling part (of the city). It’s always been like that here.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.