Several hundred protestors participated in rallies and marches across New York City on May 25, commemorating the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.
Mr. Floyd was killed by former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on Memorial Day 2020, during an arrest over an apparent counterfeit $20 bill.
On April 21, Chauvin was found guilty of Floyd’s murder on charges of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by a Minnesota jury and faces up to 40 years in prison at his sentencing on June 16.
Jay Walker, an activist with the political action groups Rise and Resist, and Gays Against Guns, attended a Black women-led rally in Foley Square where around 150 protestors had gathered before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Walker thinks that a lot more work needs to be done because police brutality against black and brown people is still happening or just now are coming to light, referring to Ronald Greene, a 49-year old Louisiana man who died in police custody outside following a police chase after Greene failed to pull over for a traffic violation.
“I think everybody here today is here because we recognize that even a year later, even though Derek Chauvin got convicted, we have tons and tons and tons of work to do,” Walker explained and said, “Our government needs to get it together and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing act in Congress.”
The bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate, would create a national registry of police misconduct, a ban on racial profiling by law enforcement, and end qualified immunity for police officers.
Among the speakers that addressed the crowd, which paled in comparison to the protests last summer when thousands took to the street following Floyd’s murder, demanding police accountability, were Nia White, a lead organizer with Freedom March NYC, and Akeem Browder.
Nea White reminded everyone that “George Floyd’s life existed before his hashtag existed,” and people should remember him as a black man who was a father, son, and brother.
White also urged the crowd to call out racism in their own families.
“We know that there are homophobic family members. We know that there are transphobic family members. We know that there are racist family members. But until you tell them that they are wrong, they will continue to not see their evil,” the 18-year old activist stressed.
For Akeem Browder, the day was especially solemn since May 25 would have been his brother Kalief’s 28th birthday.
Kalief Browder committed suicide in 2015 after being imprisoned at Rikers Island from 2010-2013 without trial for allegedly stealing a backpack -two of those in solitary confinement.
Akeem Browder shared that he felt like “breaking down all week,” and he didn’t feel like his usual upbeat self, pointing out that the black and brown community has been fighting for decades.
“We’re going against the courts. We’re going against the police. We’re going against the government that says, ‘shut up and take what we give you,'” Browder said.
“Well, we’re not shutting up. Until Black lives do matter, we will be here in every city. George Floyd didn’t just get murdered so that we can just lay down,” Browder declared.