No Justice, No Street: Protect the George Floyd Memorial

Nyasa Henderson-Meany, contributor

The shocking events that followed the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department nine months ago disrupted the nation and put the world’s eyes on our otherwise ambiguous state. Through the creation of George Floyd’s memorial at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago, many people have transformed their reactions to the disaster into art. What was once shock and confusion changed to a sense of healing, and rays of hope from the community’s rise to action. Who knew a flyover state could ignite the entire world with a thirst for change? The excitement for more Black knowledge persists going into Black History Month.

Many of the communities within the Twin Cities and outwards have felt the ripple effect of charitability among their neighbors. This includes places of worship providing their neighbors with daily meals as well as donating items for others to survive through the cold nights of winter. At the George Floyd Memorial (GFM) there’s almost always opportunities to donate your money or time.

 If people would like to volunteer their time, there are stands to inform visitors of the procedures and respect expected at the site. At one point there were people coming every day from out of state, though this stage has passed. If people want to donate their money, there are places at those same stands to do so. Additionally, people are often walking around speaking about their nonprofits centering BIPOC, homeless shelters and more. This has become a beautiful place of grieving. This has become a safe place for healing. This is a place that is now a piece of Minnesotans’ hearts. Derek Chauvin has still not been convicted with murder. Because of this, I am saying along with many, “No Justice, No street!”

As one could imagine, there has been heavy criticism given once again in our dear Mayor Frey’s direction after his mid-January announcement that the memorial is to be taken down following the trial of Chauvin. Frey’s decision was due to alleged increased criminal behavior and lack of accessibility for snow plows, public transportation and first responders said to be occurring at this intersection. Be that as it may, I have been to GFM at almost all hours of the day and I have been greeted with the most loving and welcoming environment. It feels as though the people are attending to the grooming and maintenance of the site, and even adding to the artwork. If this memorial is destroyed, it will encourage people who already turn a blind eye to continue to do so. It will also strengthen the system that oppresses Black people and ends far too often with them losing their lives, crying for their mothers, on the street.

As a Black woman I’m disappointed with how our city leaders are handling the George Floyd Memorial Site. As a Minnesotan and Auggie during Black History Month, I think it’s important to invite people of all racial-ethnic backgrounds to get mad, educated and inspired. Let loose. Welcome failure and mistakes, these will lead to lessons and progress. White people from across the country and world were being tested with how they were going to use their voice and privilege last summer. It’s not over. How our marginalized communities in society struggle is how we struggle as a society. Show up and show out; Black Lives Still Matter. No justice. No street.

Decorated street filled with flowers in foreground and fist sculpture in background
Photo of George Floyd Memorial taken by Caroline Yang for The New York Times.
“A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2020, Section A, Page 19 of the New York edition with the headline: In Minneapolis, Reflection and Tribute Give Way to Danger After Dark.”