Why I Didn’t Take Any Photos at the George Floyd Memorial—and What I Did Instead

Exploring one of the newest landmarks in Minneapolis, and reflecting on a community’s resilience and the ongoing fight for racial justice
Contributed by Martin Ricard—June 17, 2024
George Floyd Memorial

I recently found myself in Minneapolis for a conference and, with it being my first time in the Twin Cities, I was really looking forward to exploring the city outside of my hotel.

The food scene was calling my name, but I also had my sights set on visiting Paisley Park (shoutout to Prince!) and maybe even catching a Twins game.

After a full morning and afternoon of sessions on one of the days, I joined a group heading to the Twins ballpark. We had great outfield seats and got to know each other outside the usual work chatter.

But amidst all the excitement, I knew I couldn’t leave Minneapolis without learning more about the story of George Floyd and the memorial that has since become a global symbol of racial justice.

Why visit the George Floyd memorial?

To understand its significance, we must appreciate its context. The memorial is not just a physical space. It’s a living testament to the racial tensions that have long simmered beneath the surface of American society. It’s a place where history was irrevocably changed — a crucible of grief and hope.

For me, visiting wasn’t about being a tourist. It was about bearing witness to this profound moment in our collective history.

What you’re about to read is more than just a recount of my visit. It’s a reflection on the conversations and emotions that came with it. It’s a call to action to recognize the ongoing impact of George Floyd’s death and the importance of building solidarity in our communities.

Here’s what I experienced…

On one of the days of the conference, several people organized rides and, soon enough, a group of about 30 of us arrived at the memorial.

Stepping out of the Uber, I was immediately struck by the weight of the atmosphere. This was the epicenter of a racial reckoning that continues to reverberate through our society.

When you get there, you can see the main memorial is situated in front of a liquor store, dominated by a black-and-white mural of George Floyd on a bus shelter. The space—filled with art, candles and offerings—has been transformed into a reflective garden, barricaded off from the busy street.

Just looking at it, I felt a deep sense of reverence for the artistry and emotion on display.

But my attention soon shifted to the abandoned gas station across the street that is now called People’s Way and kinda serves as the memorial’s welcome center. Covered in RIP messages—not just for George Floyd but for others mourned by the community—it was a stark reminder of the broader narrative.

Murals and an indigenous medicine wheel painted on the cement between the gas pumps stood out. But what truly struck me was a life-size wooden board covered in graffiti letters listing the demands of the community.

It was a poignant reminder of the unrest that had been simmering long before George Floyd’s tragic encounter with the police.

Read more on Medium.

Social Media Toolkit

Fuel Your Social Impact Movement With Justice-Motivated Templates

Get the toolkit that offers a blueprint for building engaged communities and inspiring action—even if you don't have a full marketing and communications department.

No Thanks