One year ago today, George Floyd was senselessly murdered in Minneapolis by individuals who had sworn an oath to serve and protect.
Today, people and organizations across the United States and around the world are remembering George Floyd and many other Black people who have been wrongfully killed by law enforcement or while in police custody, from Breonna Taylor to Manuel Ellis to Eric Garner and Sandra Bland.
“George Floyd was murdered one year ago today,” said President Barack Obama. “Since then, hundreds more Americans have died in encounters with police— parents, sons, daughters, friends taken from us far too soon.”
“But the last year has also given us reasons to hope. Today, more people in more places are seeing the world more clearly than they did a year ago.”
“It’s a tribute to all those who decided that this time would be different—and that they, in their own ways, would help make it different.”
“When injustice runs deep, progress takes time,” Obama concluded. “But if we can turn words into action and action into meaningful reform, we will, in the words of James Baldwin, ‘cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.’”
“Today, the President and I met with the family of Mr. George Floyd,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to serve as Vice President of the United States. “Mr. Floyd should be alive today. He should be with his family who continue to show courage, grace, and resilience.”
“One year ago, a cellphone video revealed to the country what Black Americans have known to be true for generations. The verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of murder provided some measure of justice.”
“But one verdict does not address the persistent issue of police misconduct and use of excessive force. It does not take away the Floyd family’s pain, nor the pain of all those families who have grieved the untimely loss of a loved one.”
“We need to do more,” the Vice President continued.
“After Mr. Floyd was murdered, Senator Cory Booker, Representative Karen Bass, and I introduced the Justice in Policing Act to hold law enforcement accountable and build trust between law enforcement and the communities it serves. Congress must move swiftly and act with a sense of urgency. Passing legislation will not bring back those lives lost, but it will represent much needed progress.”
“We must address racial injustice wherever it exists. That is the work ahead.”
“Although it has been one year since their beloved brother and father was murdered, for the family – for any family experiencing a profound loss – the first year can still feel like they got the news a few seconds ago,” said President Joe Biden. “And they’ve had to relive that pain and grief each and every time those horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds have been replayed.
“Yet the Floyd family has shown extraordinary courage, especially his young daughter Gianna, who I met again today. The day before her father’s funeral a year ago, Jill and I met the family and she told me, Daddy changed the world.”
“He has. His murder launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights era in the ‘60s – protests that peacefully unified people of every race and generation to collectively say enough of the senseless killings.”
“Last month’s conviction of the police officer who murdered George was another important step forward toward justice. But our progress can’t stop there.”
“To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between the vast majority of the men and women who wear the badge honorably and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect. We can and must have both accountability and trust and in our justice system.”
“The negotiations on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress are ongoing. I have strongly supported the legislation that passed the House, and I appreciate the good-faith efforts from Democrats and Republicans to pass a meaningful bill out of the Senate. It’s my hope they will get a bill to my desk quickly. We have to act. We face an inflection point. The battle for the soul of America has been a constant push and pull between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.”
“At our best, the American ideal wins out. It must again.”
“We are encouraged by the tens of thousands across the country who expressed solidarity with the Black community in the wake of George Floyd’s death and those who continue to do so,” said National Alliance on Mental Illness CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr. “We are relieved by steps taken toward accountability through the conviction of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. We are even hopeful for more change as we see our nation continue conversations about racial disparities.”
“But we are also still frustrated, knowing the systemic issues that enabled this tragedy remain. We are still grieving, knowing nothing can truly rectify the loss of another Black life, which could have easily been our own, a family member or a friend. More than anything, we feel the exhaustion from the racial trauma that continues to negatively impact our physical and mental health.”
“Here at NAMI, we recognize that there are no quick and easy solutions to the systemic racism that has permeated every aspect of our society for far too long. Today, only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it.”
“But we are committed to keep striving toward more equitable and just practices within our own organization and within the mental health community.”
“That’s why over the last year we have created and bolstered our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work, increased the amount of Black mental health resources on our website, hosted a series of Help Not Handcuffs webinars, and championed legislation that will allow individuals in mental health crises an alternative to a 911 law enforcement response for support.”
“And that’s why we have intentionally integrated anti-racist initiatives into our five-year strategic plan. We cannot ignore the intersection of race, identity and mental health. And we are determined to do our part in dismantling barriers to accessing culturally competent resources for every individual in our country.”
Here are a few well written stories reflecting on this somber anniversary as well as the progress — and lack of progress — since George’s murder a year ago:
- The Washington Post: George Floyd’s family marks a year since his death shocked the nation, as goal for policing overhaul slips
- The New York Times: ‘On the ashes of tragedy’: Mixed emotions on anniversary of George Floyd’s death
- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: ‘A living memorial’: Minneapolis, world remember George Floyd’s life, death
- Politico: Floyd family expresses hope for tough police reform after meetings with Biden and lawmakers
- The Los Angeles Times: On anniversary of George Floyd’s death, L.A. rally declares, ‘Black lives matter everywhere’
- The Atlantic: George Floyd’s murder changed Americans’ views on policing
- The Nation: In the wake of George Floyd
- The New Yorker: George Floyd, the Tulsa Massacre, and Memorial Days
- The Guardian: Teen who filmed George Floyd’s death speaks out
Events honoring Floyd took place in locations thousands of miles away from Minneapolis, including Scotland and Berlin, as you can see from this photo slideshow put together by the news staff of The Wall Street Journal.
NPI again extends its sincerest condolences to the Floyd family and all of George’s friends on the anniversary of his deplorable murder. We agree that the best way we can honor his memory is to take action. And while the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act does need to be passed, we should be doing more than just advocating for federal legislation to ensure that Black Lives Matter.
In Washington State, legislators and Governor Inslee have adopted a package of new laws that will make police more accountable to the communities they serve.
There is much more to do, but this is a significant start. We also sorely need more action at the local level, especially considering that most law enforcement agencies are administered by cities and counties. King County is in the process of beginning the transition to an appointed sheriff, which is good, but its neighboring charter counties still have right wing sheriffs (Adam Fortney, Ed Troyer) who have violated their oaths and ought to be promptly removed from their positions.
As President Obama observed, dismantling racist systems isn’t something that can usually be done overnight. Progress often takes time, especially in a country as large as the United States. We must be mindful, however, that justice delayed is justice denied. People who are being oppressed are tired of waiting to be liberated from racist systems and oppressors who perpetuate them.
We must be the change we wish to see, and commit ourselves to strategic initiatives for racial justice and climate justice that provide the most help and relief to the most people as soon as humanly possible.
Let’s do all we can in the time we have together to ensure we don’t pass on the same societal inequities that we inherited to the next generation.