May 25, Tuesday, was the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The African-American man died of asphyxiation after a police officer knelt on his neck while detaining him.
Floyd was honoured with a family-friendly street festival, musical performances and moments of silence to mark one year since the incident.
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police official, who knelt on Floyd’s neck, will be sentenced on June 25th. Chauvin faces charges of one count of second-degree unintentional murder, one count of third-degree murder and one count of second-degree manslaughter.
The ‘Celebration of Life’ event at a downtown Minneapolis park was attended by Floyd’s family members. The event included music, food trucks, an inflatable bouncy house and a vaccination stand.
At the intersection where Floyd died, dozens of people knelt around an installation of a steel fist, symbolising how Floyd was pinned down.
“It’s been a troubling year, a long year,” Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd told AP. “But we made it. … The love is here. George is here”.
Floyds meet with President Biden and VP Harris
Some members of Floyd’s family met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Tuesday to commemorate their loss and continue to push for legislation. “It was a remembrance of what happened to my brother,” Philonise Floyd said of the meeting with Biden, calling the President “a genuine guy”.
The President told them, “he just wants the bill to be meaningful and that it holds George’s legacy intact”, said George Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams. Williams also said that Biden showed “genuine concern” for how the family is doing and took some time out to play with Floyd’s daughter Gianna.
The Floyds also met with Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s lead negotiators on the bill.
The family then visited Black Lives Matter Plaza, the site near the White House where protesters gathered throughout last summer. While the Floyds’ meeting with leaders in Washington generated some positive comments, the lack of a final deal contrasted sharply with advocates’ high hopes just last month, when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for Floyd’s killing and then Biden’s nationally televised speech to Congress calling for action by May 25 gave supporters a sense of momentum.
It is a high-profile legislative fight, where negotiators have displayed steady solidarity and in which Biden has notably taken a back seat, preferring to leave the work of crafting a compromise to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, in contrast to his fevered advocacy. “We have been respecting the space needed for negotiators to have these discussions,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.
Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina Scott said negotiations “have a long way to go still, but it is starting to take the form”. The Democratic-controlled House approved a sweeping bill in March that would make it easier for individual police officers to be sued and charged with crimes.
Republican lawmakers have preferred more modest changes. Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump said Biden told them “he does not want to sign a bill that does not have substance and meaning”.
A moment of silence to honour Floyd was also held in New York and a rally was held in Los Angeles. Globally, a rally took place in Germany and Floyd’s death was marked by US embassies in Greece and Spain.
Hours before the Minneapolis festivities, the intersection where Floyd died was disrupted by gunfire.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey last week unveiled sweeping public safety proposals aimed at fixing the problem of increasing gun violence. Other groups are pursuing a more radical remaking of the police department.
The intersection of 38th and Chicago has been turned into a memorial.
On Tuesday evening, activists and demonstrators gathered with some families of people who had died in interactions with the New York Police Department at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
They called for defunding the police, holding officers accountable and removing police officers from schools. Following the rally, they set off on a march through Brooklyn streets.