ABOVE: George Floyd’s oldest sister LaTonya Floyd, Jeffrey L. Boney and Floyd family friend Travis Cains
This past Sunday, May 23, a ceremony was held to unveil a new park in Third Ward dedicated to the memory of Houston native George Perry Floyd Jr., who was tragically murdered on camera on May 25 by since convicted killer and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
The property was donated by Ms. Gertrude Jane Stone and the Stone family, who owned the property and have served as a prominent and influential African American family in the Greater Houston area and in Third Ward for decades.
“Love one another unconditionally,” Ms. Stone briefly remarked, as she sat away from the stage and away from all of the attention.
The property, which is located directly across the street from George’s alma mater, Jack Yates High School, sits at the corner of Napoleon St. and Alabama St.
“This is no surprise,” said Tomora Bell, president of MacGregor Super Neighborhood. “The Stones’ heart has always been in Third Ward. The Stones have always been a family that people could call on. They have a history of loving Third Ward and this is just another affirmation of their continued love for Third Ward.”
On the property sits a stage and a brick chimney that shows a picture of George Floyd, along with the phrase “I can’t Breathe Mama” and the words “Son” and “Lion” next to his likeness.
“This park is for the community,” said Jack Stone, event organizer and son of Gertrude Stone. “This park and the efforts behind it aim to ensure that nothing like what has brought us here today. What happened on May 25th of last year ever happens again.”
The park is also located directly in front of the two-block “Black Lives Matter” mural that was dedicated to George Floyd back in February.
“George Floyd was someone in this community,” said Travis Cains, close family friend of George Floyd and his family. “George Floyd was murdered up there in Minnesota and the injustice really hurts us. What Derek Chauvin did was put a hole in this community and in African Americans, but George was a sacrificial lamb for this change that is happening right now.”
The family of George Floyd was invited to visit President Joe Biden at the White House this past Tuesday, but his oldest sister LaTonya Floyd was on hand to share words and represent the family at the dedication ceremony.
“This park is truly an honor,” said George Floyd’s oldest sister LaTonya Floyd. “Violence is everywhere and it must stop. We won’t stop fighting and we will stand with everybody on solid ground until it does.”
Several elected officials, community leaders and an HPD Executive Chief were on hand to deliver remarks and speak on the importance of the park and impact of George Floyd’s life.
“We need to come together and we need the passing of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the United States Senate and a passing of that bill in the statehouse,” said U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “That is the legacy of George Floyd – a life that we wish had never been extinguished. Let us use this park for the Cuney Homes children to walk about a block or two to come and play and be peaceful. Let the students at Jack Yates come and sit and be peaceful. Let us stand for humanity. Let us stand for dignity. Let us stop the violence.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120) is currently held up in the U.S. Senate, but the key components of the bill include: increasing accountability for police misconduct; restricting the use of certain policing practices; improving transparency and data collection; establishing best practices and training requirements; prohibiting the use of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, carotid holds and other forms of excessive force when they are not necessary; as well as other aspects of the bill.
“You know, the death of Mr. George Floyd, and how he died, shocked our nation – shocked the world – and a lot of people were hurting” said HPD Executive Chief Satterwhite. “This is a testament to just how strong Houston is and how resilient and how unique we are here. We are a city that will take something tragic and we will build on it and we will make it better and we will work to do that.”
“We can never forget what George Floyd went through,” said Houston City Council Member Carolyn Evans Shabazz (District D). “We hope that at some point the hearts of men would change so that we don’t have to continue to go through this. George Floyd was a Jack Yates Lion and how perfect is it that this park is across the street from Jack Yates High School, where George Floyd actually attended school.”
“This park was established to honor the life and legacy of our community brother, George Floyd, and many others who have died at the hands of those who were sworn to protect us” said Carl Davis, founder of Houston Society for Change. “Let us look ahead and enjoy this moment, and let us not rest on our laurels, because social and economic injustice must be fought.”
“George Floyd’s death came with a lot of turmoil,” said Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia, one of the many speakers at the event. “I hope that this location will serve as a place of hope and will channel what George Floyd and his life has brought to us.”
“George Floyd, now, is the human symbol for racial equality in America,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “George Floyd was a change agent. How the justice system treats people like George Floyd is important. Third Ward is ground zero for a breakthrough and a change that leads to criminal justice reform.”
Madd Hatta, current KTSU The Vibe Content Director and former host of 97.9 The Box’s Madd Hatta Morning Show, served as the emcee, and said that while it is important to honor the life of George Floyd, it is more important to not have to hold events like this because of a Black person being murdered and killed.
Coming to Houston at the request of the Stone family was former Buffalo, NY police officer Cariol Horne, who was recently given a huge legal victory by having a law she was championing passed by the Buffalo City Council. Now, Horne is working to pass a law in Texas that will have a mandatory stature on police bystander intervention, provide protection from retaliation, require external investigation with mandate reprimanding for abuse or misconduct and create a required reportable registry.
“I suffered from PTSD,” said Horne as she began to cry. “I came here to Houston on faith and don’t even know how I am getting home, but God told me to come to Houston to stand with the Floyd family and to seek changes in the justice system to make Cariol’s law a federal law.”