Reflecting on the two years in N.C. since George Floyd's murder
Eight minutes, 46 seconds: Two years ago on May 25, that length of time was burned into America's mind.
That was how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's neck.
- A jury would later find Chauvin guilty of multiple counts of murder.
- In the days that followed, people filled the streets in Raleigh and around the world, chanting Floyd's name and calling for change.
Zoom out: Floyd's death catapulted local and state leaders into action, and, in a rare show of unity in North Carolina's divided state legislature, rallied them around a common cause.
- Two years later, progress has happened in spurts, here and everywhere.
In Raleigh, several statues came down in June 2020, including a confederate monument at the Capitol and one of Josephus Daniels, the former News & Observer editor who promoted the white supremacist campaign of 1898.
Policy changes took longer. Statewide, the legislature passed, and the governor signed, three criminal justice reform bills in a rare bipartisan effort in late summer 2021.
- The largest was SB300, which created a statewide database that monitors police officers' backgrounds, essentially to make it more difficult for officers fired for misconduct from one department to find work in another.
- The bill also established a statewide duty to intervene, meaning an officer who sees a colleague using excessive force must step in to prevent it and report it within 72 hours.
- It also expanded mental health training for officers and allowed families of people severely hurt or killed by police to request body-camera footage and receive an answer faster from a judge.
Worth noting: George Perry Floyd — known by his family as "Perry Jr." —was from North Carolina, born in a hospital in Fayetteville and raised in Raeford, just an hour and a half south of Raleigh.
- His uncle, Roger, who now attends regular racial equity meetings around the state, said he was the third person to hold Perry Jr. in the hospital after he was born.
- "That's so vivid right now in my mind and in my spirit," he once said.
What's next: The George Floyd Memorial Center, based in Raleigh and set up by Floyd's family in the state, is hosting a "weekend of enlightenment."
- The golf tournament is already sold out, but there's a virtual conference on Saturday, beginning at 11am, to discuss moving "from perpetual trauma to transformation." (Tickets)
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