MINNEAPOLIS — EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the commemorative sign at George Floyd Square would be unveiled by an MPD officer. The story has been corrected below.
Wednesday marks a somber and course-changing anniversary for Minneapolis and for America: two years since George Floyd was murdered by a police officer.
When Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, held his knee for more than nine minutes on the neck of a Black man on the evening of May 25, 2020, a chain of events that is still felt today was set in motion.
To remember Floyd, the man who lost his life on that day and the movement that gained strength from his death, community events are taking place on Wednesday and through the weekend.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, a George Perry Floyd Square sign will be unveiled at the corner of 38th and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis by Floyd's brother, Terrence, aunt Angela Harrelson, and Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins.
At the same time St. Joan of Arc church at 4537 3rd Ave South in Minneapolis will host "A Time of... Remembrance and Renewal." Songs and prayers will be lifted, reflecting on Floyd's death and the events that have unfolded in the community over the last two years.
Then at 8 p.m., a candlelight vigil is planned, organized by the George Floyd Global Memorial.
“We’re gonna keep walking the walk. That’s one of my sayings," said Paris Stevens, George Floyd’s cousin and co-chair of the George Floyd Global Memorial. "We keep walking the walk. The race isn’t won in one day. And in the Bible, one day could be for hundreds of years. So change will continue to come. So I have to keep that positive outlook and keep lifting my voice and I encourage everyone to do the same.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has faced heavy criticism both for his response to the unrest following Floyd's death and continuing problems with the city's police department in dealing with people of color, released a statement marking the anniversary of Floyd's death.
“We know the greatest impact of the past two years will continue to be felt most in the hearts of those closest to George Floyd. He should still be here with them today. May both his life and legacy resonate throughout history for generations to come," Frey reflected. “In Minneapolis, we will continue to say his name and honor his spirit. In these days of reflection and remembrance, we must lead with kindness towards one another – and especially look out for and support our Black friends and neighbors.”
President Biden's executive order on police accountability
President Biden is marking the two-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder by announcing he plans to sign an executive order to "advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices that will build public trust and strengthen public safety."
Some of the measures brought about by this executive order include creating a national database of police misconduct, mandatory body-worn camera policies for all federal law enforcement agencies and a ban on the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized.
May 25, 2020
It was a hot night in May, Memorial Day, a day that would change the world. As Floyd took his last breaths under the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin, people in the crowd were filming.
“It feels like yesterday. Each day is different," Stevens said. "And so, we take it, I take it in stride. I try to have a positive outlook. I have a great supporting family and friends… and I keep myself busy. But we do have setbacks. It’s like a rollercoaster."
In the days that followed George Floyd's death, the four officers involved in his arrest, Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were all relieved of their positions as Minneapolis police officers and later charged with crimes related to Floyd's death on both state and federal levels.
On June 25, 2021, former MPD officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three state counts he was charged with: second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder. He is currently serving a 22 and 1/2 year sentence at Minnesota's only maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights.
Before he could be tried on federal charges, Chauvin pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights, admitting for the first time that he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck — even after he became unresponsive — resulting in the Black man’s death. Chauvin admitted he willfully deprived Floyd of his right to be free from unreasonable seizure, including unreasonable force by a police officer.
Under the plea agreement Chauvin signed, both sides agreed Chauvin should face a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years, with prosecutors saying they would seek 25. He could have faced life in prison on the federal count without a deal. With credit for good time in the federal system, Chauvin would serve from 17 years to 21 years and three months behind bars.
Then in February of this year Lane, Thao and Kueng went to trial on federal charges for denying Floyd his right to medical care, while Kueng and Thao were also charged with failing to intervene with former officer Derek Chauvin's use of force. The three men were found guilty on all counts.
The state trial for Kueng and Thao is scheduled to begin on June 17. Thomas Lane pleaded guilty to the state charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter on May 18 and will serve three years in a federal facility, to be served concurrently with a federal sentence that has yet to be announced.
Thou and Kueng's state trial is scheduled to begin on June 17.
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