Photo by bgrocker via Shutterstock

A 700-pound bronze statue of George Floyd has been erected and unveiled in Newark, New Jersey. 

The statue will remain in Newark for at least a year, acting as a symbol of activism that came from Floyd’s death. Floyd’s murder is one of the many among deaths of Black Americans by police officers, according to the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America research.

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“All of the activity that took place around this country because of the untimely and vicious murder of George Floyd, and all the activism that sparked out of it, is worth us pausing and paying attention to,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said at the unveiling ceremony. 

Baraka, who governs a city with a majority of people of color, 50% being Black, hopes that the statue acts as an inspiration for people “to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.” 

The statue was gifted to Newark by artist Stanley Watts, who portrays Floyd sitting on a bench, arm outstretched. 

“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 – and that’s what memorials are – it’s to remember and never forget why we changed today and tomorrow and for the rest of our existence on this planet.”

Actor and filmmaker Leon Pinkney commissioned the statue as a donation to the city, with the intent of honoring Floyd’s humanity above all else. Pinkney’s goal reflected Baraka, with the hopes that people would see the statue and remember why so many decided to fight for him in 2020. 

George Floyd’s murder was one of the defining moments in 2020, even amidst a global pandemic. On May 25, 2020, Officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes before killing him. Chauvin was recently found guilty and sentenced to 22.5 years.

Following the unveiling ceremony, “George Floyd” was trending on Twitter in the United States, as people from all sides began to discuss the meaning of the statue. While many users posted celebratory remarks, other users regarded the statue with condemnation.

A large portion of tweets under the trend referred to Floyd as a criminal, criticizing the decision to memorialize him. An edited photo with the bronze-Floyd holding a gun to a pregnant woman spread quickly, and other tweets compared him to Founding Fathers and law enforcement officials. 

Other users (left-leaning) expressed discomfort with the idea of the statue, seeing it as an act of glorifying what had actually happened—a murder. 

Written ByAddison Gallagher

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