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George Floyd

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George Floyd
George Floyd.png
Floyd in 2016
Born
George Perry Floyd Jr.

(1973-10-14)October 14, 1973[1]
Died (aged 46)
Other namesBig Floyd
Occupation
  • Truck driver
  • security guard
Home townHouston, Texas, U.S.
Children5

George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was a black American man killed during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after allegedly using counterfeit money to buy cigarettes. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground.[nb 1] After his death, protests against police violence toward black people quickly spread across the United States and internationally.

Floyd grew up in Houston, Texas. He played football and basketball throughout high school and college. He held several jobs, and he was also a hip hop artist and a mentor in his religious community. Between 1997 and 2005, he was convicted of eight crimes; in 2009, he accepted a plea bargain for a 2007 aggravated robbery, serving four years in prison.[2] In 2014, he moved to the Minneapolis area, finding work as a truck driver and a bouncer. In 2020, he lost his security job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early life and education

Floyd was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina to George Perry and Larcenia "Cissy" Jones Floyd.[3][4] He had four siblings.[5][6][7]

Floyd's parents separated and, when he was two, his mother moved with the children to the Cuney Homes public housing,[8][9][10] known as Bricks, in Houston's Third Ward, a historic black neighborhood and one of the poorest areas of the city.[3][4][8] Floyd was called Perry as a child, but also Big Floyd: being over six foot tall in middle school, he saw sports as a vehicle for improving his life.[8]

At Yates High School, Floyd played on the basketball team as a power forward, and as tight end on the football team helping lead them to the Texas state championships in 1992; he graduated in 1993.[3][8][9] He had made the varsity football team as a ninth grader; in tenth grade he was also co-captain of the basketball team.[6]

The first of his siblings to go to college, Floyd attended South Florida Community College for two years on a football scholarship, and also played on the basketball team.[8][11][12] He transferred to Texas A&M University–Kingsville in 1995, where he also played basketball before dropping out.[13] Friends and family called him Perry, and characterized him as a "gentle giant."[14][15] He was 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) tall and weighed 223 pounds (101 kg).[16]

Later life

Floyd returned to Houston from college in Kingsville, Texas in 1995 and became an automotive customizer and played club basketball.[13][17] Beginning in 1994, he also performed as a rapper using the stage name "Big Floyd" in the hip hop group Screwed Up Click.[18][19][20][21] The New York Times described his deep-voiced rhymes as "purposeful", delivered in a slow-motion clip about "'choppin' blades' – driving cars with oversize rims – and his Third Ward pride".[8]

Between 1997 and 2005, Floyd was sentenced to jail terms eight times on various charges, including drug possession, theft and trespass.[2][8][6][nb 2] In 2009 he was sentenced to five years in prison for armed robbery[3][22][23] and was paroled in January 2013.[13]

After Floyd's release, he became more involved with Resurrection Houston, a Christian church and ministry, where he mentored young men.[3][8][24] He helped his mother recuperate after a stroke. He delivered meals and assisted on other projects with Angel By Nature Foundation, a charity founded by rapper Trae tha Truth.[25] Later he became involved with a ministry that brought men from the Third Ward to Minnesota in a church-work program with drug rehabilitation and job placement services.[8]

In 2014, Floyd moved to Minneapolis to find work.[26][27] He was a truck driver and a bouncer, and lived in St. Louis Park.[4][13][28] In 2017, he filmed an anti-gun violence video.[3][15] From 2017 to 2018 he was a security guard for a Salvation Army facility.[29] In 2019, George Floyd worked security at the El Nuevo Rodeo club with security guard Derek Chauvin. [30] In 2020, he lost his security job at a bar and restaurant affected by the COVID-19 pandemic rules.[31] That April, he contracted COVID-19, and recovered after a few weeks.[8][5]

Floyd had five children, including two daughters (ages 6 and 22) in Houston and an adult son in Bryan, Texas.[32][33][34] A former partner lives in Houston with his youngest daughter.[35] He also had two grandchildren.[5] A GoFundMe account to defray Floyd's funeral costs and benefit his family broke the site's record for number of individual donations.[36]

Death

On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis.[37] He died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes[nb 1] during the arrest. Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street,[39][40][41] while two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening.[42]:6:24[43][44] For the last three of those minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse,[39][41] but officers made no attempt to revive him.[45]:6:46 Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.[45]:7:21

The official autopsy report classified Floyd's death as a homicide attributed to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by subdual and restraint.[16][46][47] The county medical examiner listed arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication, and recent methamphetamine use as "other significant conditions", per a press release about the autopsy.[undue weight? ][48] A second autopsy, commissioned by Floyd's family and performed by Michael Baden, without access to various tissue and fluid samples, found that the "evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause" of death, with neck compression restricting blood flow to the brain, and back compression restricting breathing.[37] Some experts have theorized positional asphyxia.[49]

After Floyd's death, protests were held globally against the use of excessive force by police officers against black suspects and lack of police accountability. Protests began in Minneapolis the day after his death and developed in over 400 cities throughout all 50 U.S. states and internationally.[50][51]

Memorials and legacy

External video
George Floyd Memorial Service in Minneapolis, June 4, 2020, C-SPAN
George Floyd Funeral Service in Houston, June 9, 2020, C-SPAN
The carriage carrying Floyd's casket to his burial in Pearland, Texas, June 9
Large area of sidewalk covered in flowers and other tributes beside a building with a mural painted on the wall
Tributes and mural outside Cup Foods, where Floyd died.

Several memorial services were held. On June 4, 2020, a memorial service for Floyd took place in Minneapolis with Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy.[14][52] Services were planned in North Carolina with a public viewing and private service on June 6 and in Houston on June 8 and 9.[53] Floyd was buried next to his mother in Pearland, Texas.[54][55][56]

Colleges and universities which have created scholarships in Floyd's name include North Central University (which hosted a memorial service for Floyd),[57][58] Alabama State, Oakwood University,[59][60] Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State, Ohio University,[61][62][63] Buffalo State College, Copper Mountain College,[64][65] and others.[66] Amid nationwide protests over Floyd's killing, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin made a $120 million donation to be split equally among Morehouse College, Spelman College and the United Negro College Fund.[67] The donation was the largest ever made to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.[68]

Street artists globally created murals honoring Floyd. Depictions included Floyd as a ghost in Minneapolis, as an angel in Houston and as a saint weeping blood in Naples. A mural on the International Wall in Belfast commissioned by Festival of the People (Féile an Phobail) and Visit West Belfast (Fáilte Feirste Thiar) features a large portrait of Floyd above a tableau showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck while the three other officers turn their backs and each covers his eyes, ears, or mouth in the manner of the Three Wise Monkeys ("See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil").[69][70][71] By June 6, murals had been created in many cities, including Manchester, Dallas, Miami, Idlib, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Oakland, Strombeek-Bever, Berlin, Pensacola, and La Mesa.[72][73]

A bill proposed by US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, the George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, was designed to reduce police brutality and establish national policing standards and accreditations.[74][75]

The length of time that Chauvin was initially believed to have had his knee on Floyd's neck, eight minutes forty-six seconds, was widely commemorated as a "moment of silence" to honor Floyd.[76][77][nb 1]

The Economist, which made Floyd its June 13 cover story, said that "His legacy is the rich promise of social reform."[78]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Initial reports cited eight minutes and 46 seconds, later being corrected as seven minutes and 46 seconds.[38]
  2. ^ In 1997, at age 23, Floyd was arrested for giving less than one gram of cocaine to another person, and sentenced to six months in jail. The following year, Floyd was arrested twice for theft, receiving sentences of 10 months and 10 days, respectively. In 2001, Floyd was arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for failing to provide his name, address, or birth date to a police officer. Between 2002 and 2005, he was arrested four more times: twice for possessing less than a gram of cocaine, once for giving less than a gram of cocaine to someone else, and once for criminal trespassing. He was sentenced to a total of about 30 months in jail for those four crimes.[2]

References

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External links