A New Jersey city has paid tribute to George Floyd by erecting a 700-pound statue in his image.
According to CBS News, the bronze structure was unveiled Wednesday outside Newark’s city hall, where it will remain on display for at least a year. The piece, which shows Floyd sitting on a bench, was commissioned by actor/director Leon Pinkney and created by artist Stanley Watts.
“The world needed a peaceful George,” the sculptor 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. I believe that in my heart, and my art will speak for itself.”
Newark mayor Ras J. Baraka said the statue was a “gift” to the city and that he hopes it’ll inspire people “to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”
“The artwork honors the life of George Floyd, an African American man who was brutally murdered by a White Minneapolis police officer,” Baraka’s office said in a statement. “Mr. Floyd’s death elevated the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement which has resulted in an international response, including protests, police reform measures, and the removal of Confederate statues from public parks and racist names from organizations.”
The unveiling took place just weeks after the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder. The 46-year-old Black man was killed on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Footage of the incident showed Floyd face-down on the street while officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. The father of five was filmed repeatedly telling officers he couldn’t breathe before he appeared to lose consciousness. He was then transferred to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Footage of the incident quickly circulated on social media, igniting worldwide calls for justice. Ex-officer Chauvin was ultimately found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next week.