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Updated April 11 2021
(5 minute read)
FRIDAY MARCH 5 2021: Downtown Minneapolis just outside the Hennepin County Courthouse where it stands tall on 7th and 4th surrounded by a moat of military men, barbed wire fencing, and K-9 Officers named "Zorro."
A a Representative of George Floyd News, I made the massive Courthouse my first stop in Minnesota, and encircled the massive Courthouse with my new camera to capture the irony of how the Minneapolis Government Center now symbolizes both freedom and a dark dawning chaos.
Then a man drove up.
He slowed his vehicle and pulled over to where I stood on the sidewalk, rolled down his window and immediately asked, "What do you think of all this?"
His voice quivered not from nerves, but because he had reached the end of his and I noticed.
I communicated through my gaze that it was okay for him to continue. He did. "I'm a Veteran" he said, "a 65 year old Vietnam Vet who found for this country and almost died doing it, now I have to drive passed THIS? (He paused to swallow the last of the moisture evaporating from his vocal cords.) Then continued, "PLUS I have to watch another BLACK MAN who looks just like me die inside the country I found to keep free and he was killed by the same cops supposed to protect us!?"
I cautiously paused without speaking to acknowledge his words and his pain as I watched a gray haired broken soldier, a stranger, break down in tears right before me. My eyes filled with the same tears, but different, and I could not hide the drops falling down into my COVID19 mask.
I said "Sir, first of all, thank you for your military service, and for sharing...."
Before I could finish he elevated his voice in a wounded way conveying a deep lifetime source of frustration and then blurted... "I'M TIRED! I'M TIRED DAMMIT. I'M SICK AND TIRED OF TIME AFTER TIME NEVER GETTING JUSTICE. NEVER GETTING PEACE. ALWAYS FEELING LIKE I'M THE ENEMY."
I again paused, and perched my lips underneath my now very warm mask, puffing in and out to absorb the gravity of what was happening. I juggled ideas over how to speak next. He then made my decision very easy for me when he turned with the same forced anguish behind his volume and said, "What do YOU think about it? About ALL OF THIS!? as he motioned his right hand back behind him to the Courthouse"... then he added, "well, white lady?"
I nodded my head up an down, moving closer to his car and preparing to launch my words because this man, this brother of mine, this neighbor needed to hear SOMETHING and I was going to try to feed that moment of emptiness and fear he was facing by planting a few seeds of trust, hoping trust was the something he needed.
"Sir, thank you for stopping and speaking to me. I hear your pain, it sucks. I share your frustration and I think this one is different. This time, it's different. I really think this case, this trial, the death of George Floyd was the final straw the world needed to wake up. I think God woke us up."
He tilted his head to the side slightly, still crying yet reigning it back in after my words, eye balled me up and down as if to determine the level of my sincerity by my body language and said "I wish I had the same hope you have."
I nodded gain, "Yes, and you have absolutely every sane right to have zero confidence in our justice system, the people, or the world. I get that for sure."
We chatted a little more and I will keep that part private, but I never got his name before he drove off after reminding me the real reason I was there. I didn't ask his name from lack of experience on what was literally my first day a reporter, I didn't ask because it didn't matter.
He, like millions of others, represent one community, one heart, one mind unified by one name, George Perry Floyd Jr. And just like three male Minneapolis Police Officers used deadly restraint on him on May 25 2020 making him carry their weight, force, and hate...
...George Floyd and his name are carrying the weight put on all of us, from all the inequality, injustice, and imbalances in this world.
That beautiful, senior, black war veteran who pulled up in his car that windy afternoon while I was snapshotting thousands of photos on my new camera, left the most important image behind in my mind and not on my memory card. His spontaneous swivel toward the curb that day was the reminder I needed that the Black Population as a whole is feeling the weight of this tragedy more than any body else period.
This is about them, first, Black America. This about a history needing to be undone. This is about justice and a just society. This is about the Floyd Family, George Floyd, and this is about death.
I arrived to document a criminal trial, and was immediately struck with the electrical current of pain surrounding the details of yet another unnecessary murder to begin my "documentation."
That was my very first day in Minneapolis.
March 5 2021