May 25, 2022 - News

Reflecting on the two years in N.C. since George Floyd's murder

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

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.

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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