No matter what you think of George Floyd, there is no denying the impact his story has had on the culture, the movement and America as a whole—and that is a massive impact that deserves to be commemorated. On Wednesday, Newark, N.J., Mayor Ras J. Baraka unveiled his city’s gift to Floyd in the form of a 700-pound bronze statue in his image.
CBS News reports that Baraka stood before an audience at the unveiling ceremony at New Jersey’s city hall where he said Floyd “represents a lot more than himself at this juncture in history.”
“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,” he continued.
The statue, which shows Floyd sitting comfortably on a bench, was sculpted and gifted to the city by artist Stanley Watts, who said that he chose that image because “The world needed a peaceful George.”
“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,” Watts continued, CBS reports.
Of course, because conservative haters don’t take a holiday—and they certainly wouldn’t start with Juneteenth if they did—there are those who don’t believe Floyd needs to be honored this way.
On Wednesday, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted—presumably in response to the unveiling— “America is building statues of George Floyd but tearing down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. God help us all.”
Somebody should probably tell Kirk that whoever it was that toppled over the Douglas statue in New York is probably somebody who agrees with him that God needs to help anyone who thinks a Floyd statue is appropriate. I mean, if someone decides to vandalize this Floyd statue, it will be someone who would gladly have a beer with Kirk and anyone with a literal ax to grind against monuments to any Black abolitionist or civil rights leader, not the same people tearing down Confederate monuments and such. (Whoever is knocking down Lincoln memorials could go either ideological way, to be honest.)
Anyway, according to CBS, the Floyd statue will remain in Newark for at least a year. It’s unclear what city officials plan to do with it if and when they decide to remove it.
It’s a fine gesture. Floyd’s death at the hands (and particularly, the knee) of Minneapolis police turned America on its end last year and the reckoning for race relations in the nation that came as a result has yet to subside.
It would be nice to see more statues honoring Floyd and other victims of police violence erected across the country—if only to thwart the will of the Charlie Kirks of the world.