700-pound bronze George Floyd statue unveiled in Newark for Juneteenth

700-pound bronze George Floyd statue unveiled in Newark for Juneteenth

It was a moment that changed the course of history and prompted people around the world to stand up and take action.

George Floyd’s murder will forever be ingrained in our brains as a horrifying event which highlighted the injustices that so many people of color face at the hands of authority.

Now a statue to honor George Floyd has been unveiled in Newark, New Jersey.

Commissioned by filmmaker Leon Pinkey and unveiled by Newark mayor Ras Baraka on Wednesday June, 16, the 700-pound statue will be displayed outside its city hall for at least a year.

Mayor Baraka, who stood alongside local activists at the ceremony, said he hoped the statue would inspire local residents to “become active in the things, the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”

He added: “George Floyd represents a lot more than himself. All of the activity that took place around this country, around the world, because of the untimely and ferocious and vicious death, murder of George Floyd and all of the activism that sparked out of it is worth us pausing and paying attention to.”

The bronze statue by artist Stanley Watts is a full-length sculpture of Floyd sitting on the end of a park bench, allowing passers-by to sit with him and reflect.

Watts, who is best known for his 9/11 memorial work “To Lift A Nation”, said he wanted to show a “peaceful George,” explaining, “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.”

The actor and director Leon Pinkney said he had wanted to commission the statue to help people remember the reason for the racial justice movement which grew from the 46-year-old’s death in May last year.

“The statue was to cause them to remember why they marched during such a horrific pandemic,” he said, adding: “I didn’t want them to go back to a status quo.”

George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by police officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes after he was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 note. Chauvin was found guilty of his murder and is due to be sentenced on Friday.

In New York City, Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, unveiled a six-foot statue in Brooklyn as part of Saturday’s Juneteenth celebrations. The new federal holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The statue will be on display at Flatbush Junction for two to three weeks before moving to Union Square in Manhattan, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

These statues will serve as a reminder that we must never stop fighting against racial injustice and we all have a part to play.

I’m glad Floyd is being honored with images of the man he was rather than the horrifying image of him being killed that dominated the media for so long. Please share.