‘Turning mourning into dancing’: Festival to remember Floyd

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The intersection where George Floyd took his final breaths is to be transformed Tuesday into an outdoor festival on the anniversary of his death, with food, children’s activities, and a long list of musical performers.

“We’re going to be turning mourning into dancing,” rapper Nur-D tweeted. “We’re going to be celebrating 365 days of strength in the face of injustice.”

Floyd, 46, who was Black, died on Memorial Day 2020 after then-Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, pinning him to the ground for about 9 1/2 minutes. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted last month of murder and faces sentencing on June 25. Three other fired officers still face trial.

The site of Floyd’s death, 38th, and Chicago was taken over by activists soon after and remains barricaded to traffic. The “Rise and Remember George Floyd” celebration, including a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m., caps several days of marches, rallies, and panel discussions about his death and where America is in confronting racial discrimination.

Boston Mayor Kim Janey will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, May 25, at 2:30 p.m. to observe the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd as residents in Minneapolis continue to take part in the festival.

Many members of the Floyd family are scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, in a private meeting with President Joe Biden, who called family members after the Chauvin verdict and pledged to continue fighting for racial justice.

Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said he hoped Biden will renew his support for policing reform named for George Floyd that would ban chokeholds and no-knock police raids and create a national registry for officers disciplined for serious misconduct.

“Now is time to act,” Crump said Tuesday on CNN. “Not just talk but act.”

Floyd’s brother Philonise, appearing alongside Crump, said he thinks about George “all the time.”

“My sister called me at 12 o’clock last night and said ‘This is the day our brother left us,’” he said, adding: “I think things have changed. I think it is moving slowly but we are making progress.”

Nur-D, whose real name is Matt Allen, took to the Minneapolis streets in the days after Floyd’s death, often providing medical assistance to protesters who were shot or gassed in confrontations with police. He eventually founded an organization, Justice Frontline Aid, to support the safe protests.

He described the past year as “like we’ve lived 20 years inside of one” and hoped that people would feel “honesty and a real sense of togetherness” during Tuesday’s celebration at what’s informally known as George Floyd Square.

“If you’re angry, you can be angry. If you’re sad, you can be sad,” Nur-D said in a follow-up interview. “If you’re feeling some sense of joy over the verdict and some sort of like a step in the right direction, and you want to celebrate that, do that as well.”

The event was organized by the George Floyd Global Memorial. Angela Harrelson, an aunt of Floyd’s and a member of the board of directors, said the organization has stockpiled 3,000 items surrounding Floyd’s death — things like artwork left behind in the square — and will display some of them in a pop-up gallery.

The event was due to start at 1 p.m., the same time Gov. Tim Walz asked Minnesotans to pause for a moment of silence to honor Floyd. Walz asked that the moment lasts for 9 minutes, 29 seconds – the length of time that prosecutors say Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Walz’s proclamation says Chauvin’s guilty verdict was a step in the right direction, “but our work to dismantle systemic racism and discrimination has not ended. True justice for George Floyd will come only through real, systemic change to prevent acts like this from happening again — when every member of every community, no matter their race, is safe, valued, and protected.”

Boston 25 will be streaming Mayor Janey’s press conference at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 25. Those interested in watching the briefing live, click here.