‘It shouldn’t have happened’: Community leaders reflect on change one year after George Floyd’s death

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - Exactly a year ago Tuesday, George Floyd died while in custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The death of an unarmed Black man sparked protests and anger throughout the country.

Days of protests took place for days straight, including here in Charlotte.

On Tuesday, the NAACP of Charlotte made sure George Floyd’s name is not forgotten, with the NAACP March and Rally for George Floyd.

Dozens gathered at Marshall Park to pay tribute and rally for Floyd, and protest against social injustice and police brutality.

The community spoke about Floyd’s life and how his death took a hard look at police reform.

“What this day means to me is it strengthens my promise to that little girl that said ‘my daddy made a difference. My daddy is going to change the world,’” said Samantha Turner, from local group “Poor People’s Campaign.”

Speakers, including N.C. Rep. Alma Adams, addressed the crowd.

Adams has co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which would reform policing across the country, including more accountability and banning techniques such as a chokehold.

The bill is still being debated in Congress.

“This man, he’s not a hashtag, we have to remember that. It shouldn’t have happened,” Adams said.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes, while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.

At the remembrance rally, people chanted George Floyd’s name, and talked about how his death started a change in the country for the better.

“It’s our job,” said 20-year-old Tyler Jackson, who was with the NAACP Charlotte. “Without the youth this thing doesn’t work.”

His death sparked months of nationwide protests focused on racism and a renewed debate over police reform in the U.S. Chauvin was convicted last month on multiple charges stemming from Floyd’s death.

Last year, Jackson found himself marching for George Floyd.

“We all dressed up,” Jackson said. “Took inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King because they used to dress up on their walks.”

Protests lasted for 11-straight days in Charlotte as thousands made their voices heard.

“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, we’re saying those names, why are we still feeling this pain? Why is there still not a change implemented for us to be able to say I can walk down the street and I’m safe?” Jackson asked.

Members of the YWCA Central Carolinas held a moment of silence for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the amount of time Floyd was pinned under Chauvin.

“What strikes me in this moment of reflection is just how long a little over nine minutes feels and how many breaths I take during that time, it’s a lot,” said Sarah Avinger with the YWCA Central Carolinas.

Avinger said the YWCA is following its mission to eliminate racism.

“I’m hopeful to see our country responding in some ways to his death and his murder but I also recognize there’s a lot of work to be done and that work has to be done by everyone,” Avinger said.

Members of the Urban League also held multiple events Tuesday including a moment of silence and push for people to send letters to their Senators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

People are encouraged to text “JusticeNow” to 52886.

“It is going to send a pre-written letter to your US senator to have them know that you stand in solidarity to making sure the George Floyd Policing Act is passed through congress,” said Marvin Price with the Urban League of Central Carolinas Young Professionals.

Earlier Tuesday, Floyd’s family visited Washington, D.C. and the White House to meet with President Joe Biden.

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