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Minneapolis renames junction to honour George Floyd

Colten Muth, 32, visits George Floyd Square in Minneapolis to mark the second anniversary of the black man’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers (Mohamed Ibrahim/Report for America/APAP)
Colten Muth, 32, visits George Floyd Square in Minneapolis to mark the second anniversary of the black man’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers (Mohamed Ibrahim/Report for America/APAP)

The junction where George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers has been renamed in his honour.

It is one of a series of events to remember a man whose killing forced America to confront racial injustice.

Mr Floyd’s brother Terrence was among family members to attend as a commemorative street sign marked the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue as “George Perry Floyd Square” on the two-year anniversary of his death.

Mr Floyd thanked hundreds of people who turned out to honour his brother, singing songs as they marched a block-long stretch to finish at the junction.

The renaming was followed by a candlelight vigil at a nearby ceremony.

The junction quickly became known informally as George Floyd Square soon after Mr Floyd’s death, with a large sculpture of a clenched fist as the centrepiece of memorials.

“Today we honour two years since George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin,” Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

“Each day since, we have remembered George Floyd’s life and legacy as a friend, father, brother, and loved one. His name has been heard in every corner of our world.”

George Floyd responds to police after they approached his car outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis
George Floyd responds to police after they approached his car outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis (Court TV/AP)

Colten Muth, 32, visited the junction on Wednesday ahead of the vigil to “make sure I’m paying homage because his sacrifice made a huge impact on the world”.

Mr Muth, who identifies as mixed race, recalled watching the bystander video of Mr Floyd’s dying moments from his home in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville.

He said it hit him especially hard because he grew up just blocks from the corner, walking to the convenience store there many times as a child.

“That could’ve been me facedown in the pavement,” he said.

“It shook me to the point like even where I was living I had a sense of fear just walking around my own neighbourhood.”

Mr Muth called Chauvin’s conviction a “first step” toward holding police accountable but said the city has done nothing substantial to improve policing and the conditions that led to Mr Floyd’s killing.

And he said the lack of federal policing reforms after two years is disappointing.

On Wednesday in Washington, with Congress deadlocked over how to address racism and excessive use of force, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on policing to mark the second anniversary.

Later events in Minneapolis include a Thursday gathering of families of loved ones who have died in interactions with police and a fundraising gala on Friday aimed at raising money to preserve offerings left by protesters and mourners at the junction where Mr Floyd was killed.

An all-day festival and a concert at the junction are also planned for Saturday.

Mr Floyd, 46, died after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes as Mr Floyd was handcuffed and pleaded that he could not breathe.

Chauvin is serving 22 and a half years in prison after being convicted of state charges of murder and manslaughter last year.

The ex-officer also pleaded guilty to violating Mr Floyd’s civil rights in a federal case, where he now faces a sentence ranging from 20 to 25 years.

Former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are scheduled to stand trial on state charges in June.

Thomas Lane pleaded guilty last week to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter for his role in Mr Floyd’s killing, months after all three former officers were convicted in February of federal charges of wilfully violating Mr Floyd’s rights.

“In Minneapolis, we will continue to say his name and honour his spirit,” Mr Frey said.

“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 neighbours.”