The statue of George Floyd will remain in the city of Newark for at least one year

By Vanessa Etienne
June 18, 2021 10:58 AM
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Mayor of Newark Ras J. Baraka unveiled a donated statue honoring George Floyd in front of City Hall, alongside Filmmaker Leon Pickney, Artist Stanley Watts, Activist Larry Hamm and more
Credit: City of Newark/Twitter

New Jersey is paying tribute to George Floyd with a statue in his honor.

On Wednesday, the city of Newark revealed a 700-lb. bronze statue of Floyd in front of City Hall. During an unveiling ceremony for the public, city officials said the statue will remain in its place for at least one year in recognition of the national impact of Floyd's death.

The statue, which depicts Floyd sitting on a bench, was created by artist Stanley Watts and commissioned by actor and filmmaker Leon Pinkney as a donation to the city. According to NJ.com, Pinkney wants the sculpture to honor the Minnesota man's humanity, hoping those who see it remember why his death sparked an outcry for change.

"The world needed a peaceful George," Watts said during the ceremony. "The world needed him relaxed and chilling on a bench and that's what we produced and we produced him larger than life, because after death, George will be remembered. That's what memorials are. To remember and never forget why we changed today and tomorrow and for the rest of our existence on this planet."

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Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka also attended the unveiling to show how grateful he was that Pinkney chose Newark as the home for the statue. NJ.com reports that he added, "George Floyd represents a lot more than himself at this juncture in history. Hopefully when people walk by it and they see it … hopefully it inspires them to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey."

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death. He was killed on May 25, 2020, at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd's killing —which was caught on camera and viewed by millions — sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

George Floyd memorials
Credit: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Floyd's family at the White House on the anniversary of his death as a way to check in with family members during the emotional time. Floyd's brothers Philonise, Rodney and Terrence, as well as Floyd's nephew Brandon, all spoke to the press after the meeting and called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is pending in the Senate as lawmakers work toward a compromise.

The bill, if enacted, would ban chokeholds and select no-knock warrants, create a database to track police misconduct and end racial and religious profiling, among other aspects, according to The Washington Post. It would also change how police officers are held accountable for misconduct in civil and criminal court.

"Mr. Floyd should be alive today," Harris said in a statement after the May 25 meeting. "He should be with his family who continue to show courage, grace, and resilience." The vice president also echoed calls for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying: "We need to do more."