Denver honors George Floyd with candlelight vigil and a call for change

Floyd was buried in his hometown of Houston.

A vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park on the day of his burial. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park on the day of his burial. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

George Floyd was a dreamer. Before he died at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, he said he wanted to change the world. Perhaps he has.

Floyd was laid to rest in Houston, his hometown, on Tuesday. His death sparked protests around the world against racism and police brutality. Denver has seen at least 12 straight days of protests since May 28.

On Tuesday, Denver Public School board member Tay Anderson and CU student Nyaradzo Bere hosted a vigil starting in Civic Center Park honoring Floyd.

“We do need to remember the life of George Floyd and others who have passed away,” said Ashira Campbell, a vigil attendee. “At this point we’re done and we’re tired of us being killed for exactly no reason. Racism can’t be the excuse anymore.”

Campbell said she’s been out protesting for seven days.

“I’m on summer break, I should be relaxing right now,” she said. “I’m gonna be in my senior year, I should not be here protesting how I feel about something that’s been going on for 400 years.”

Melanie Crumb and Angela Jackson hold hands during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Melanie Crumb and Angela Jackson hold hands during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A tear falls from Melanie Crumb's cheek during a guided meditation exercise at the beginning of a vigil for George Floyd on the day of his burial at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A tear falls from Melanie Crumb's cheek during a guided meditation exercise at the beginning of a vigil for George Floyd on the day of his burial at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The vigil began with a guided meditation, setting the tone of the event as one of introspection and a release of frustration and anger.

Melanie Crumb dropped a tear during the meditation.

“I’m here for my sons, teenage boys,” she said. “We want to be treated like everybody else.”

Although the vigil was for Floyd, speakers also eulogized Ahmaud Arbery,  who was shot and killed while jogging in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was fatally shot by Louisville police officers in her home.

Anderson focused on political action while addressing the crowd. He said marching and mourning is not enough to change the world. He encouraged everyone to get registered to vote for the November election.

“Young people right now have the power to be the most vocal force in this election,” he said. “If you want to see something change, if you want to be somebody, you want to go somewhere, you gotta wake up and pay attention or support those who are doing the work.”

Tay Anderson leads the crowd in a chant during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park on the day of his burial. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Tay Anderson leads the crowd in a chant during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park on the day of his burial. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Melanie Crumb and Angela Jackson hold hands during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Melanie Crumb and Angela Jackson hold hands during a vigil for George Floyd at Civic Center Park. June 9, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser also spoke and the Spirit of Grace gospel music group sang the black national anthem and a song dedicated to Floyd.

Attendees started lighting their candles as the sun set over Denver, and the crowd went silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time that a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck on May 25. And after the silence, a chant: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win, we must love one another, support one another, we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

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