The murder of George Floyd

Hope, continued activism, shine at fourth anniversary of George Floyd’s death

A memorial is painted with George Floyd's face and name.
A view of the site where George Floyd was murdered at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

Four years after the killing of George Floyd, there are markedly fewer people protesting on the street. But many have not forgotten. 

“I live with George Floyd with me every day,” said Charles McMillian, who had stopped to witness the incident on May 25, 2020. He addressed a crowd on Saturday gathered to commemorate the day when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. 

“I carry him with me,” McMillian said. “I will carry him the rest of my life with me. I will carry him to my grave with me because he are me. He’s right here. He ain’t separated from me since the day.”

A person stands near a crowd, holding a hand out.
Charles McMillian, a witness who testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin, speaks to people gathered during a at memorial George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

Several events were held this weekend to remember Floyd, a now annual tradition in Minneapolis. A coalition of activist organizations held a solidarity rally on the corner of Lake Street and Chicago Avenue. They were joined by Floyd’s relatives as well as the family of Calvin Horton Jr., who was shot and killed by a pawn shop owner during the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd. Prosecutors declined to bring charges against the man.

Many activists say Minnesota hasn’t done enough.

“After the murder of George Floyd, we had the murder of Daunte Wright,” said Trahern Crews, founder of Black Lives Matter Minnesota. “After the murder of George Floyd, we had the murder of Amir Locke. We had the murder of Tekle Sundberg. And there still has not been any justice in any of those cases.”

The rally included Palestinian organizers, with many waving “Free Palestine” banners, and adding to calls for solidarity. “While we’re doing this work, we have to think about our Palestinian brothers, sisters and siblings, who are being massacred and killed, who are not free to live,” said Monique Cullars-Doty, who started organizing after St. Paul police killed her nephew Marcus Golden in 2015

The organizers got into their vehicles and rode to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue — the intersection known as George Floyd Square — to join a “Rise and Remember” event hosted by George Floyd Global Memorial, a nonprofit co-led by Floyd’s family.

The organization is being renamed after the event, in part to reflect their goal of advocating for all stolen lives, said Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrelson.

A crowd gathers, holding flowers and candles.
People hold flowers and candles during a memorial at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Saturday.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

“I just want you all to know, we as a community, as people, impacted families, we have to be there for each other,” said Harrelson. “And we have to do battle. Everybody has to do battle because we cannot do this alone.”

Another relative of Floyd also spoke.

“We’ve all hurt, cried, suffered because of the loss of a loved one, so we're not special. We just happen to be blood relatives of George Floyd,” said Thomas McClaurin, Floyd’s first cousin. “But think about if your family member lie on the ground in that corner. What would you do? Would you just wallow in your own stuff? Would you get up and do something? And that’s all ‘Rise and Remember’ is asking you all to do.” 

Several of Floyd’s relatives flew in from out of state to attend events this weekend. They shared smiles and hugs with local organizers, expressing the support they feel in Minneapolis. 

Six people stand near an altar full of candles.
Members of George Floyds family look on during a memorial at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2024. Saturday marks four years since Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis Police.
Stephen Maturen for MPR News

“Every time I come down here, it just — my heart is broken and also it’s just happiness,” said Floyd’s aunt Mahalia Jones, visiting from North Carolina. “Because when I visit the George Floyd Square, there’s so much love and so much power in what y’all stand for. And it’s such a beautiful thing.” 

The event centered many of the organizers, residents, volunteers, and artists at the heart of George Floyd Square. 

Jamaican native Gloria Burnett has lived in the area for 30 years, earning the nickname “Mama G” for her role cooking, feeding, and caring for folks in the neighborhood. She took the stage on Saturday as her daughter, Christine Chambers, translated. 

“One thing I can say, honestly, is that I’ve seen that come out of this tragedy is I now know most, if not all, my neighbors,” said Burnett. “I’ve noticed that our community here and around the surrounding areas are building better bonds with each other, And everyone’s getting to know one another. Looking out for each other.”