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Paying homage to George Floyd: My plan for a permanent memorial

Most Minnesotans agree that we need a place to commemorate the life and tragic murder of George Floyd, as well as a space where people can acknowledge the larger social justice movement that his death helped to inspire.

Two young men raising their fists as they sit in front of a mural of George Floyd at the memorial site for Floyd in Minneapolis.
Two young men raising their fists as they sit in front of a mural of George Floyd at the memorial site for Floyd in Minneapolis.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

Most Minnesotans agree that we need a place to commemorate the life and tragic murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, as well as a space where people can acknowledge the larger social justice movement that his death helped to inspire both locally and around the globe. Simply put, people need a place where they can collectively grieve and heal from the heinous act that we all witnessed via cellphone video on Memorial Day 2020.

Much to my chagrin, Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis City Council have waited far too long to develop and implement a meaningful strategy for solving the crisis that has unfolded at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where George Floyd lost his life.

As a resident, small business owner, and City Council candidate for Ward 9, I feel compelled at this critical time in our city’s history to offer the following three-point solution for the busy intersection that has become internationally known as George Floyd Square.

Sadly, I believe my very simple and reasonable plan of action should have been proposed by city leadership more than a year ago, so area residents and business owners would have regained some semblance of their lives by now.

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First, I believe city leadership must immediately establish a temporary location where people can gather safely and securely to pay homage to George Floyd. I recommend the city designate a football field-sized space on the north side of Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis as a transitional memorial.

Working with trusted local civil rights activists, advocate groups, and community artists, this temporary location will allow for both fixed and interchanging design elements that functionally address all the needs and concerns of the public.

Second, once the details of a temporary memorial have been finalized, city leadership must then set a date to end of the occupation of the 38th and Chicago, while appropriately marking the location where George Floyd died.

Like it or not, this major thoroughfare in Ward 9 will hold historical significance for generations to come. Therefore, the scene of the crime must be properly marked and preserved.

Although area residents and business owners at 38th and Chicago were not responsible for George Floyd’s murder, they continue to pay a heavy price for the once unimaginable crime that was committed there.

For more than a year, residents and business owners have been forced to live in an autonomous zone without public transportation, police and fire services, and a host of other amenities that most people in our city take for granted on a daily basis.

In addition, many residents have become prisoners in their own homes out of concern for their safety and security, while countless businesses have been forced to close due to lack of revenue.

As a result, city leadership must invest heavily in the restoration of the Phelps neighborhood, which already had some of the highest race-based disparities in education, health care, and homeownership in our city prior to last year’s civil unrest.

I believe this can be accomplished and maintained by incentivizing the patronage of small and minority-owned businesses in Ward 9, as well as establishing a low-visibility police substation in the area until further notice.

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Third, but most important, city leadership must unanimously agree on the best way to honor George Floyd and Minnesota’s newfound place in the social justice movement sparked by his death.

I recommend the city use four blocks on the north side of Powderhorn Park to accommodate the new George Floyd Memorial and International Center for Social Justice, which will serve as the largest social justice museum in our nation.

Mickey Moore
Mickey Moore
In addition to paying homage to George Floyd, this multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art facility will host speakers, debates, conferences, and educational programs of local, national and international importance, while honoring other individuals synonymous with the social justice movement, including Emmett Till, Stokely Carmichael, Rodney King, Michael Brown, and Breonna Taylor, among others.

After careful consideration, I believe my proposal allows residents and business owners at 38th and Chicago the opportunity to regain an immediate sense of normalcy and security. It also establishes our city and state as an international tourist destination for all those searching for a greater understanding and history of social justice.

I firmly believe if our city does not implement this very sensible three-point plan or some version of it for resolving the crisis at 38th and Chicago, we set a very dangerous precedent that encourages individuals and radical groups to hold entire neighborhoods hostage with their demands.

More important, if we don’t use this opportunity to establish a memorial befitting the life of George Floyd and the global civil unrest that followed his horrific murder, we not only dishonor the very concept of social justice, but miss a real opportunity to learn from our past and work collectively toward the theoretical ideal of what a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive society should look like.

A lifelong resident of south Minneapolis, Mickey Moore is a retired small business owner running to represent Ward 9 on the Minneapolis City Council. He can be reached at mickey@weneedmoore.org.

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