Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder last month after holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest on May 25 last year.
Protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County government center on Sunday, where Chauvin’s trial took place, to commemorate Floyd’s life and demand action to tackle police violence and anti-black racism.
The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a group founded by Bridgett Floyd, Floyd’s sister, said the event was “to demonstrate our continued call for accountability and reform, for the right to equal justice should not not be conditional or based on a person’s color ”.
Several other gatherings and events are being held across the United States to mark the anniversary on Tuesday.
“It’s really getting close to the day,” Bridgett Floyd told reporters earlier this week, as Minneapolis affiliate NBC News KARE11 reported.
“And I feel like as the days come I’m getting a little bit stronger than last year, and that’s because I’ve been through so much last year. I have no choice but to be strong and carry this weight, and carry this position that God has placed me in. Because I didn’t see it coming, neither of us did, ”she said.
‘Take a step in the right direction’
Reverend Al Sharpton, a prominent American civil rights leader, was in Minneapolis on Sunday to join the Floyd family, who, he said, “not only suffered, but were the ones who stood up for justice in this matter. “.
“The Chauvin verdict was a step in the right direction, but it was a step,” Sharpton told MSNBC before the rally. “We have a long way to go. I am happy that we are on the right track, but we must continue on this path. “
Last month, US President Joe Biden also described Chauvin’s conviction on three criminal charges relating to Floyd’s murder as a “step forward.”
“‘I can not breathe.’ These were George Floyd’s last words. We cannot let them die with him. We must continue to hear them. We must not turn away. We cannot turn away. This can be a time of significant change, ”Biden said at the time.
But activists and others have wondered how much has really changed in the year since Floyd was killed.
“Every time you turn on the news, there has been a black man beaten up by the police or murdered – and he’s unarmed,” James Shoals, a Minneapolis resident who attended the rally, told Al Jazeera. “We’re not getting the justice we deserve,” Shoals said.
Police reform bill
Meanwhile, Biden will welcome the Floyd family to the White House on Tuesday, US media reported this weekend.
His administration has urged Congress to pass police reform legislation before the anniversary of Floyd’s murder, but those efforts have stalled and US lawmakers risk missing Tuesday’s deadline.
Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who is involved in bipartisan negotiations over the bill – known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act – told CNN’s State of the Union program on Sunday that if ” significant progress ”had been made, no agreement had yet been reached. .
“We’re making good progress, encouraging progress, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Booker said.
Racial justice activists have also pointed out that police violence against blacks has continued since Floyd’s murder a year ago, fueling continued calls for action.
Just this week, Louisiana state police released footage showing a violent arrest in May 2019 of a black man who died in hospital after the incident.
Officers initially said Ronald Greene was dead after his car hit a tree during a police chase, but footage shows officers dragging Greene out of his car, then shackling him, beating him and hitting him several times. times. The case is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, the Associated Press news agency said.
“We need to pass legislation that will hold officers to account,” said Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, also involved in the negotiations on the police reform bill, tweeted Thursday about Greene’s death.
“We really thought my brother’s death would be the last case of police brutality,” Bridgett Floyd also said this week. “But as we can all see, they’re there over and over and over again. “
She said she was confident the police reform bill would pass, however, KARE11 reported.
“These police officers must be held accountable for their actions,” she said. “So they can know that when they break the law, when they take a loved one from someone, they will think twice.”