Mission District George Floyd protest swelled into the thousands on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Photo by Natalia Gurevich

Alex, 53, was unloading boxes filled with restaurant supplies from the back of a truck on 20th Street in the Mission when he stopped to reflect on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death — “a tragedy,” he said of the May 25, 2020, incident in which a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. 

It was a staggering episode caught on video, and it resulted in in Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Michael Chauvin’s conviction in March on three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd’s killing ignited massive protests and renewed calls for police reform or abolition.

Most residents we spoke with today saw basic reforms as the greatest need.  

Alex said he is not anti-police, but reform is needed.  “Their training should be looked into,” he said. 

For 63-year-old Charlie Stackhouse, Jr., police brutality has long been an issue. The difference this time was Chauvin’s conviction. “Finally, they’re trying to change something,” he said.  Police, he said, “break the law just because they are police, which is not good; they have to respect the law.” 

Charlie Stackhouse, Jr., says he is glad George Floyd’s death brought to light the injustice of policing. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

A 44-year-old resident who wished to remain anonymous because he has been portrayed negatively in the press before said that, a year later, he feels nothing has changed. As a mixed-race male, he still gets asked inappropriate questions about his criminal history when being pulled over for a tail light being out. 

“The uniform authorizes aggressiveness to people,” he said. We need to somehow put them in different attire; it is still the ‘good ol boy network.” 

Nelle Muwaswes, a 31-year-old Glen Park resident who works as a hairdresser on 20th Street in the Mission, said Goerge Floyd’s death and the protests that followed  “opened up a lot of eyes.”  A lot of Palestinians also fought for George Floyd, and the protests also brought attention to their plight, a development that others have noted.

Mo Mosa, 59, who works at Mission Cannabis Club, said “This event has changed the whole world, which is really good.”

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Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys working at the intersection of art and politics, and focusing on the stories of individuals to reveal larger themes.

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