A 700-pound statue of George Floyd was unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Newark City Hall in New Jersey.
“George Floyd represents a lot more than himself at this juncture in history,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said during the Wednesday ceremony. “Hopefully, when people walk by it and they see it … hopefully, it inspires them to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”
Baraka thanked filmmaker Leon Pinkney, who commissioned the sculpture, saying he was happy his city was chosen to display it.
“He probably could have taken this anywhere, but we are grateful that he chose to display it in Newark for as long as we possibly can have it,” the mayor said. “Maybe it will find a permanent home somewhere, or maybe it will be here, who knows, but we are happy to have it for the time we have it here.”
Pinkney said he wanted the statue to serve as a constant reminder of Floyd’s life and death, the subsequent marches, and a warning against going “back to a status quo.”
“The statue was to cause them to remember why they marched during such a horrific pandemic, and I didn’t want them to go back to a status quo,” he said.
Sculptor Stanley Watts said his intention was to memorialize Floyd, whose controversial death sparked nationwide protests calling for racial equality and an end to systemic racism, as “peaceful” and to urge people to “never forget” the events surrounding his death.
“The world needed a peaceful George,” Watts said. “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. That’s what memorials are. To remember and never forget why we changed today and tomorrow and for the rest of our existence on this planet.”
The City Hall ceremony also commemorated Juneteenth, a date Congress is attempting to get recognized as a federal holiday as it observes June 19, 1865, when slavery in the United States formally ended.
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Original Author: Lawrence Richard
Original Location: 700-pound statue of George Floyd unveiled ahead of Juneteenth