In the city where he died, cautious hope that George Floyd’s murder can bring real change

As evening drew in over George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, the carnival atmosphere was in full swing.

On a temporary stage erected on what used to be a car park, huge speakers blasted performances with gospel, African and Caribbean influences.

An old petrol station was filled up with grills serving up hotdogs and chicken. Just down the road, teenagers danced to hip hop.

People gather at George Floyd Square, a year after Mr Floyd's death
Image:People gather at George Floyd Square, a year after Mr Floyd’s death

Amongst them was the young man who had been working behind the counter at the store that called police when George Floyd allegedly tried to use a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

This is where former police officer Derek Chauvin, who has since been found guilty of murder, knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

That young man’s presence was as strong a symbol as any of the coming together this day inspired.

There were people of all races and ages here, from tiny toddlers to elderly women. One told us she’d lived through the race riots of the 60s and felt she had to be here for this moment in history.

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It’s hard to imagine that this time last year, this place was just an ordinary intersection, busy with traffic and locals running errands.

It feels unlikely it will ever be just an ordinary junction again. It’s now a place so loaded with meaning – with sadness, yes, but hope, too.

There was a carnival atmosphere in George Floyd Square
Image:There was a carnival atmosphere in George Floyd Square

Tributes, many of which have been here for the best part of a year, are deeply poignant, remembering not just George Floyd, but other black men and women who have died at the hands of the police.

Officers aren’t welcome here and the media are expected to be respectful.

It’s a sacred space, fiercely guarded by activists who have lived here and maintained it.

A young boy makes bubbles at the vigil
Image:A young boy makes bubbles at the vigil

There were a few nervous moments earlier in the day when around 20 shots broke out just a block away.

Police confirmed someone had been taken to hospital and it appeared unrelated – the speed at which things got back to normal a sign perhaps of how common gun violence is here.

There is undoubtedly a feeling that something historic happened here a year ago and real hope that, just maybe, this time, out of trauma and tragedy, real change can be born.

Shareeduh Tate says her cousin George Floyd's name will 'live forever'
Image:Shareeduh Tate says her cousin George Floyd’s name will ‘live forever’

Amongst the crowd, one of George Floyd’s cousins mingled and took in the tributes.

“I think if we had just had him pass away or die and nothing happened as a result, it would have felt like it was not worth the pain and suffering,” said Shareeduh Tate.

“Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely wish I could have him back, but since we can’t, this is nice to be able to see all of the people who are in support of us.”

“George always wanted to be famous,” she smiled. “Now his name will live forever.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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