By Elly Cosgrove | May 25, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT – Updated May 25 at 11:45 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Millions of Americans across the nation paused for a moment of silence and reflection Tuesday, exactly one year after George Floyd died at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
The YWCA Lower Cape Fear asked the community to hold a moment of silence at 9:25 p.m. for nine minutes “to remember how George Floyd pleaded for his life as he suffocated.” Velva Jenkins, the CEO of the organization, said that Floyd’s death was transformative.
“The night that George Floyd was senselessly murdered, there were so many cameras, there were phones, and it was all caught on video and I think it really woke America up,” Jenkins said. “Not just America: the world — they saw this was really happening to black men.”
Sonya Patrick heads the local Black Lives Matter movement and echoes that video of what happened in Minneapolis put racial injustice and police brutality in front of mainstream America.
“People rose up across the nation of all races and backgrounds and said, ‘Enough is enough this has been going on too long and its time to address this serious issue,’” Patrick said. “By filming it, we were all witness to what happened, there was no question as to what happened. The officers were charged — one was charged and convicted — and we hope the other three are charged and brought to justice as well.”
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein released a statement today on the one year anniversary of Floyd’s murder. He also joined the many Americans who took time today to “pause and reflect on how his death tragically exposed the systemic racism within our criminal justice system.”
“Over the past year, our nation has had a long-overdue reckoning. Not enough has changed; there is still so much more work to do,” Stein said. “On behalf of Mr. Floyd and so many others, we must continue to construct a system that treats everyone — regardless of the color of their skin — fairly.
The last year saw protests and calls for change amid a global pandemic.
Almost 11 months later, the world watched when a jury convicted former officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, for George’s murder.
Floyd’s family called it justice, but both leaders say true justice would allow black people and people of color to live without fear.
“If people will call their senator and help get the George Floyd policing act passed to bring more police accountability because African Americans do not feel safe with law enforcement,” said Patrick.
“We cannot be relaxed,” said Jenkins. “If any mother that has a young son — they do not feel comfortable when that child leaves the house. And, are they going to return? Are they going to be stopped by the cops? Are they going to be harassed? So justice will not be served until we can feel comfortable like any other white American feels in this country.”
Wilmington’s Police Chief Donny Williams said the men and women in his department are aware of the community’s pleas and want to be part of the solution.
“Our officers are very mindful, not just George Floyd, but what happened in Ferguson, what happened in other parts of the country — they’re very mindful of that. And again, these men and women are here because they want to serve and they want to help people,” said Williams. “They want to help people, they want to make this place better.”
Black Lives Matter will sponsor a rally to honor Floyd’s memory tomorrow. The rally, George Floyd 1 Year Later, will take place at 5:45 p.m. at the 1898 Memorial Park.
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