MINNEAPOLIS – George Floyd’s brother pleaded for peace in the streets Monday, saying destruction is “not going to bring my brother back at all.”
Terrence Floyd's emotional plea came as the United States braced for another night of violence in response to Floyd's killing a week ago.
Chants of “What’s his name? George Floyd!” filled the air as a large crowd gathered at the spot where the black man who became the latest symbol of racial injustice in America lay handcuffed and dying as a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck.
Wearing a face mask with Floyd's image on it, his brother dropped to his knees at the storefront that has been turned into a memorial covered with flowers and signs. As he kneeled silently, many who were around him joined him on the ground.
The memorial site was a space of calm compared to the devastation left in the wake of fires and violence that paralyzed the city for days last week before it spread nationwide.
“I understand y’all are upset. I doubt y’all are half as upset as I am,” said Terrence Floyd, who lives in New York. “So if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community, then what are y’all doing? What are y’all doing? Y’all doing nothing. Because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all.”
George Floyd, 46, died last week after he was arrested in Minneapolis, accused of using a forged $20 bill to pay for goods at a grocery store. The white officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder.
Terrence Floyd took several minutes sitting in the spot where the officer pinned his brother, and he sobbed.
Addressing the crowd, he said he did not understand why the other three police officers who arrested Floyd and were fired with Chauvin have not been charged.
Still, he said, the Floyd family, which he described as “peaceful” and “God-fearing,” wants calm protests at this time with hopes that justice will follow.
“In every case of police brutality, the same thing has been happening. Y’all protest, y’all destroy stuff. ... Let’s do this another way,” he said, encouraging the crowd to vote and to educate themselves. “Let’s switch it up, y’all.”
In contrast to the peaceful message, President Donald Trump took a tough tone later in the day in the White House Rose Garden, threatening to mobilize “thousands and thousands” of U.S. soldiers if state governors don't deploy the National Guard to “dominate the streets” and halt the protests. As he spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding just a block away as police and National Guard soldiers worked to force people protesting the death of Floyd back.
Before his death, George Floyd — like millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic — was out of work and looking for a new job.
He and some friends moved to Minneapolis from his native Houston around 2014 to find work and start a new life, his lifelong friend Christopher Harris has said. But he was laid off when Minnesota shut down restaurants as part of a stay-at-home order.
“My brother moved here from Houston. He loved it here,” Terrence Floyd said Monday. "So I know he would not want y'all to be doing this.”
He said he appreciates the show of support and love for his brother and their family.
Civil rights leader Rev. Kevin McCall of New York, said he brought Terrence Floyd, community members and others out to the memorial site in Minneapolis to urge calm.
“We’re sending a message to people all over the country,” he said. “Stop the looting and throw up the peace sign. Don’t stop protesting, but throw up the peace sign.”
At the end of his remarks, Terrence Floyd led the crowd in more chants.
“What’s his name?” he said.
“George Floyd!” the crowd answered back.
Morrison is a member of the AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow Morrison on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aaronlmorrison.