As protests against the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd continue, a group of local artists created a mural to commemorate the slain 46-year-old at the street corner where he was choked to death by a police officer on Monday, May 25.
“I can’t breathe,” Floyd pleaded with the four officers who arrested him on Monday morning as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, was recorded on camera pressing his knee over Floyd’s neck until the unarmed man stopped moving and needed to be delivered to a hospital.
Floyd was declared dead at 9:25pm that day. The four officers who were involved in his arrest were fired on Tuesday. Since, mass protests have erupted in Minneapolis and across the country as protesters demand the court system and government bring Chauvin to justice and address the issue of police brutality against Black citizens. But it wasn’t until today, March 29, that Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder.
The mural, located on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis, is the work of artists Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, and Greta McLain. The group started working on the mural on Thursday morning and finished it within 12 hours with the help of artists Niko Alexander and Pablo Hernandez.
“I felt that I needed to act right away,” Goldman, who spearheaded the project, told Hyperallergic in an interview. “The majority of police officers who work in Minneapolis do not live in the city. To have police officers who don’t represent the community that they’re supposed to serve does not represent us or what we want for our city. It’s absolutely horrible.”
A portrait of Floyd centers the 20-feet-wide and 6.5-feet-high mural. He is flanked by figures of protesters, painted inside the letters of his name. In the background, Herrera painted a sunflower decorated with the names of other Black Americans who were killed by police.
At the bottom of the mural, a member of the community has added the phrase “I can breathe now” on Floyd’s chest.
The mural has quickly become a memorial site for locals, who come to honor Floyd and mourn his death.
“He was a source of light to his family and community,” Herrera added, explaining why he chose to surround Floyd’s portrait with bright colors.
“It’s comforting and incredibly hopeful to us that the mural is being appreciated by the community,” Herrera told Hyperallergic in a conversation. “Our idea was to depict Floyd not as a martyr but as a social justice hero.”