NEWARK, N.J. (WPIX) — New Jersey’s most populous city paid tribute to George Floyd on Wednesday, unveiling a 700-pound bronze statue in his honor outside Newark’s City Hall.
Mayor Ras Baraka, along with other dignitaries, were on hand for a ceremony where the artwork was presented.
“Hopefully it inspires those who walk by to be more active, take part in activism,” Baraka said.
The statue was commissioned by actor and filmmaker Leon Pickney and it was sculpted by artist Stanley Watts.
The artwork was donated to the city and will be on display for at least a year in collaboration with the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
The artwork, according to organizers, is meant to celebrate Floyd’s life. Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes.
His death reignited discourse over police interactions with Black Americans and sparked nationwide protests calling for societal and criminal justice reforms.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and later convicted by a jury of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
“Mr. Floyd’s death elevated the Black Lives Matter movement, which has resulted in an international response, including protests, police reform measures, and the removal of Confederate statues from public parks and racist names from organizations,” organizers said in a news release ahead of the statue’s unveiling.
Wednesday’s ceremony also commemorated Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day or Liberation Day, which marks the end of slavery in the United States.
For the first time on Friday, New Jersey will observe Juneteenth as a state holiday.