Letter - June 2024


A question was posed at the end of a recent George Floyd Square Visioning Workshop: What do you want to see memorialized?
I want to see the catalyst of our change memorialized.
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of MPD sparked global protests not just for how clear and cruel it was with the video, but also because it was a familiar story across this country. We were the epicenter for a traumatized nation that found some bond to our neighborhood. Everyone here at that time remembers what it did to our city. Memorializing that pain is important because it marks what we hopefully will heal from. I remember how my block organized to look out for each other, which we've stayed connected since.
After the climax of the uprising and the arrest of the four officers, people continued to hold ground in the area from 37th to 39th St. and Elliot to Little Crow (aka Columbus Ave.) because it was deeper than George. There were flawed systems and societal forces in play before he was even born that ultimately led him on that trajectory as they do with so many others, which is how the 24 Demands (bit.ly/georgefloydsquare-a) were developed by asking everyone living and working within those bounds what they wanted to see out of the protest. People formed project teams around which ones interested them, and got to work doing research and making connections. Meanwhile, thousands of people kept coming from around the world to pay respects in an autonomous zone, so people of the neighborhood had to figure out how to keep things as safe, sacred, and sanitary as possible and formed teams around their strengths, whether it be building, gardening, clean up, cooking, etc.
A fist sculpture was put in the center of the intersection, a memorial to George and greenhouse for donated planters was put in the bus stop where he was killed, a vegetable garden was put in three parking spots in front of the space now known as The Square, a clothing donation was started in reclaimed bus shelters, names of other people murdered by police were painted down the middle Chicago Ave, and a memorial for more victims was put in the drainage overflow.
All done with the help of community coming together through their trauma in hopes of achieving something bigger.
The city by way of the police had slowly murdered a man in broad daylight on tape and then injured and maimed people who had stood up for justice, so the people took a part of the city to try things another way. There were large concerts, candlelit vigils, clothing and food drives, art and wellness events, political education, skills trading, mutual aid, community meals, twice daily meetings to figure out what to do – everything with a focus on caring for people. The people helped save Miss Linda's house, got Patrick a new roof, got people in treatment and housing, and even made a video promoting all the businesses within the zone. Of course, as with any effort to do good in the face of power, the world is harsh and things weren't perfect. Some of the well-intentioned would get further traumatized, burnt out, and fall off but others still remain and maintain things as they are.
Memorializing those efforts is also important because they can serve as the inspiration for future generations, the starting model of what could be done as a neighborhood, fostering the connections that weave a fabric strong enough to hold everyone up. As more and more people buy into the concept with their bits of contributions, the stronger the community culture gets, which in turn buys the political power to get what we really need.
The details of the physical memorial are entirely negotiable.
Phi Khalar


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