I've now been down to 38th & Chicago many times now since May 25th, the last day of George Floyd's life.
It feels important to do. I don't know how to feel every time I go, which is why I go often.
The community has blocked off the intersection by a block in every direction — no police in sight, citizens can manage this themselves, thank you very much. Depending on which direction you enter it from, your car could be stopped by pieces of art, by concrete blocks, or by cars parked sideways across the intersection, music blasting from the stereo.
At each entrance you'll find volunteers at a tent, handing out masks and spraying hand sanitizer on each visitor. We are in the midst of a pandemic, after all.
Today, I visited with my husband and both girls and we first visited the "#SayTheirNames Cemetery," an art installation a block away, in a green space that was previously empty. This art was created by two Penn State students and is made of tombstones of every Black person who lost their lives at the hands of the police. It is devastatingly large and not complete. While there I emailed one of the artists (per their sign) and gave a couple of names to add to it, the most recent killing happening just this past Friday.
|"#SayTheirNames" Cemetery, 37th & Park Ave, Mpls|
The street is covered with the names of Blacks who lost their lives at the hands of the police and have not received justice. The names stretch across faded yellow dotted lines that used to direct cars along the streets which are now only traveled by foot. An oblivious person was walking over the names and someone else asked him to move off of them and walk alongside. It was the respectful thing to do.
We came to the corner where George lost his life. The place on the street where he died has been painted, his body filled in with blue paint, wings unfolding from his shoulders as he ascends to heaven. The area where he died is marked off by red velvet rope and entirely lined with flowers upon flowers upon flowers, signs and letters to George strewn among the decaying flora.
|This particular piece of art hurt my heart the most. These are George's final words. All of them.|
The previous day I was in this same area, working the "Recall Freeman" tent to collect signatures to recall Hennepin County DA Mike Freeman, who was waiting for "more evidence" before charging the officers with George Floyd's death. The only evidence he could have been waiting for was that exonerating the police officers, as the public had already seen the overwhelming evidence of their guilt.
The center of the intersection has a large sculpture of a black fist raised up to the sky, surrounded by flowers and art. Art upon art upon art upon art. The street was filled with the original graffiti after his death, of people writing "murder," and "f12," and "say his name" directly on the pavement. And then this was supplanted by statues, murals, other art that overtook the graffiti.
|Stunning art of George Floyd made up the protest signs his death inspired.|
Each time I visit, I see something new. I talk to people and nod and pay respect to people who, outside of this sacred space, I may not have felt comfortable approaching. I've had conversations with people all of creeds and colors in this space and we are all there together, with a singular mission: to honor George Floyd's life, and to ensure that his death was not in vain, that his will be the one that will change our society forever.