George Floyd was killed by a police officer a year ago on May 25, 2020.
Recently, jurors found Derek Chauvin, who was fired from the Minneapolis police force, guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for close to nine minutes.
Floyd’s death has created a deeper dialogue about policing and what it means to be Black in America, conversations that were easily dismissed prior to the 46-year-old’s public death.
His death touched every corner of the world, including Southwest Florida where protesters chanted his name.
“I still feel like it is kind of a shock,” said Jemeson Ciprius, leader of the Collier Youth for Black Lives.
Lee County NAACP President James Muwakkil said Black men across the country cried with Floyd.
“His legacy is going to be making a better America,” Muwakkil said.
Making a better America starts by having necessary conversations between Black and white people.
For Muwakkil, it means having more diversity in law enforcement. And he’s pushing the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to get body cameras.
“I think there’s been great dialogue throughout the Southwest Florida community with regard to race-related issues especially policing,” said Dr. William Glover, senior pastor at Mount Hermon Ministries Senior. “Any time people are talking, that’s a good sign that progress is possible.”
David Acton said he has seen the changes in his own church.
“I’ve seen in my own congregation, my own friends, my own brothers and sisters an extra effort to go out of their way to talk to folks they wouldn’t normally talk to,” said Acton, lead pastor at New Hope Church.
Floyd’s death is responsible for important conversations with law enforcement.
“All of them was in agreement that the knee hold, chokehold was things that they did not want their officers practicing. That spoke volumes of the sincerity from the law enforcement agencies,” Muwakkil said.
The hope is one year later the conversation will lead to lasting change.
“Culture has to become more inclusive and embracing and also laws have to be changed,” Glover said.