ORLANDO, Fla. – Dozens of people are expected to turn out at a vigil Tuesday night in downtown Orlando to honor the life of George Floyd, one year later.
The 7 p.m. vigil is at Lake Eola Park and is also designed to spark conversation and a future dialogue about where to go from here.
Activist Russell Drake took part in the many protests across Central Florida last summer after George Floyd was killed, and he said it was a first step in advocating for justice and equality.
“I’m proud of the community, but it’s not over,” Drake said. “They got the frustration out because people want to be heard. So, people needed to hear other people and let people know that we’re sick of this, and you saw worldwide outrage because what we saw was a modern-day lynching.”
He said one year later, there’s still way more to be done, like holding officers and legislators more accountable. Since Floyd’s death, there has been some legislative progress, Drake said he wants to see more laws designed to protect black people specifically.
“We start with the black community because that’s who’s been systematically held down the longest,” Drake said.
Meantime, FAMU law student and mother of three Suwana Janvier told News 6 as a future lawyer, she too wants to help bring about change.
“I have to stand up and say something. It’s not OK, it’s not right,” Janvier said.
She said she wants to advocate for more police reform laws and she’s also pushing for more black lawyers.
“Definitely being in an environment where you can see more of us reach that goal, where we can have a dream of being advocates for our communities, giving back to our communities, serving our communities,” Janvier said.
Meantime, in the past year, U.S. house leaders passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act banning chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and more, though it’s still awaiting approval by the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Congressman Darren Soto helped form a justice advisory committee after Floyd was killed.
“Just passing legal reforms may set up a framework for justice, but it takes everyday oversight by federal state and local elected officials, civil rights leaders, a community dialogue,” Soto said.
Here in Florida, a similar bill is still awaiting Gov. Ron Desantis’ signature, but the governor did sign into law the anti-riot bill this year which enhances penalties for crimes committed during a riot or violent protest. Though, that law has gotten some pushback. Opponents say it’s a racist reaction and it doesn’t really apply here in Florida.