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Say His Name: George Floyd

Area voices tell us the arts, culture and history stories of northern Minnesota, and this past week we have been living a flashpoint moment in American history. George Floyd, also known as Big Floyd, was a father, a brother, a partner, and a friend to many.  According to those closest to him, he was passionate about keeping the peace. His killing on the street at the corner of 38th and Chicago Ave in Minneapolis blew the lid off of racial tension in our communities, our state, our country.

Protests that began on the streets of Minneapolis quickly spread to St. Paul and by this past weekend, Americans across the country and beyond joined in expressing their outrage in cities large and small. The Justice for George rally in Bemidji drew hundreds of people and included speakers, music, prayer and action steps.

We caught up with two of the organizers on the morning show this week.  A collaborative effort between several people and organizations, Corey Medina and his motorcycle group The Descendants ensured peace and security while Maggie B. assisted with other aspects of crowd maintenance.   In this conversation, they share their reactions to George Floyd’s death, how  Saturday’s solidarity rally unfolded, and they consider where we go from here.

…it was kind of like a really big wake up call … I really felt, watching that,…all right. Let's get ready, because something’s going to break now.. You know, we're tired of this. Let's change.. – Corey Medina

… I think that the most important thing that I can do as a white woman and a mom and somebody who gives a lot of bangs about what's going on is listen to people who experienced the most violence under the systems of white supremacy and capitalism and imperialism and patriarchy. And then to also put myself in between other white people and people who are grieving and feeling pain and feeling unheard. And so as a white woman, I try to be diligent in showing up for those conversations… - Maggie B.

The Bemidji protest far surpasses the projected attendance numbers and proved to be a day of unity between all kinds of people…

I was prepared to be outnumbered by people who wished we weren't there. And that was just simply not the case. And so my heart kind of stuttered around my body and then was just filled with love and appreciation for this community that I am new to. The turnout was beautiful. It was painful asking people that I knew, “How are you?” and feeling like, now, never mind.  We know we are not ok.  That’s why we’re here….I was amazed by people's collective desire to show up and support each other.

-Maggie B.

I know that every community has had fires for generations that have not been put out, and have been abandoned and just left to burn an. We hope and pray, from a distance, they will go out on their own. Every community has had that….When these new fires comes in, everyone's just got to realize and process that much faster. The difference between vandalism and revival. Process as fast as you can, the difference. And as soon as you realize… this is part of the movement towards change, the sooner you realize it, right away, start helping your friends realize it… we just need to tend to our fires -he flames are already in our community- and just realize the differences between those fires…. We're not we're not against the community. We're for the community.

– Corey Medina

Click on the link for the entire conversation.

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.