As crowds gather at Floyd memorial, Minneapolis community groups discuss next steps for public safety

A person raises an arm in the air during prayer.
Xariah Chase of Chicago (center) sings during a prayer rally Sunday at the George Floyd memorial site in Minneapolis.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

As crowds continued to gather in south Minneapolis on Sunday to mourn and honor George Floyd, community groups and residents assembled in a north Minneapolis park to discuss a new way forward for public safety.

Monday marks three weeks since Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes at the corner of 38th and Chicago.

Three youth put flowers at a memorial.
From left, Bella, Eden and Leah Yohannes leave flowers at the memorial site for George Floyd on Sunday. The sisters visited the site with their father, Yohannes Abraham, to pay their respects.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

That intersection is now the hub of a growing display of flowers, statues, music, paintings, posters and poetry.

Korey Dean helped organize a prayer rally there on Sunday, aimed at young adults and teens. Dean — who runs a mentorship organization called The Man Up Club — said he’s feeling hopeful after seeing protests against racism and injustice nationwide in the wake of Floyd's killing.

He said Sunday's prayer rally was intended to provide a chance for reflection and calm amid the calls to action.

A woman kneeling on the ground while holding her son.
Adrienne Overton-Scott holds her two-year-old son Giovanni as they pray Sunday at the George Floyd memorial site in Minneapolis. Nearly 100 people attended the youth-led rally organized by The Man Up Club, a nonprofit that provides mentorship to minority males ages 13-19.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

"Of course we’ve got a long way to go," he said of efforts to address injustice and overhaul public safety. "But at the same time, we have to have some solace, and meditate and pray. We can’t continue to just respond externally to everything. There has to be some internal healing."

Rumors circulated over the weekend that the memorial would be taken down, but Minneapolis police responded that there are no plans to disturb the site.

A week earlier, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members gathered at a Powderhorn Park rally to signal their support for dismantling the police department.

A person holding a white board stands in a circle of people.
Tayler Grayson of Minneapolis facilitates a group discussion Sunday about divesting money from police budgets and reinvesting it into communities.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

In north Minneapolis on Sunday, more than 100 people gathered in North Commons Park to talk through what it would mean to defund police — and where else that money should be spent.

The event was organized by a mix of Christian and Muslim faith groups, Black-owned barbers and beauticians, and other community organizations that serve Black and African communities in the Twin Cities.

Those gathered expressed doubts that the police system, as it exists now, really is providing the community what it needs.

A person wears a face mask that reads "I just want to live."
Cierra Hurst of Brooklyn Park takes part in a discussion Sunday at North Commons Park in Minneapolis, to give people a chance to discuss their ideas for new forms of public safety.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

“It’s ridiculous. Folks calling the police because kids are selling lemonade without a license," said Minister JaNaé Bates, with the faith coalition ISAIAH, which helped organize the event. Organizers' message, Bates said, is that other forms of public safety could work.

"There’s a bunch of community engagement, arbitration-type things that regular folks can show up for, that we don’t need someone wielding a gun to do," she said.

People broke into discussion groups and shared ideas for reallocating the Minneapolis Police Department budget. Organizer Jean La Fontaine said those ideas aren’t complicated.

A crowd stands in a circle.
People break out into groups Sunday to discuss where they would like funds to go if money is divested from police budgets and reinvested into communities.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

"You don’t need to have a degree in policy to know what the community needs," La Fontaine said. "The community knows what it needs. The programs that the community said that it needed? Health care, jobs, after-school programs, wellness centers. You don’t need a degree from Harvard to know that. You only need to live in the community and know the struggles of the community."

Another listening session is planned for June 21 at Riverside Park in Minneapolis. Organizers are planning to present their findings to elected officials in July.

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