Hope and solidarity among themes of Kalamazoo gathering to observe George Floyd's death

With messages of solidarity and hope organizers of Kalamazoo’s commemoration of the death of George Floyd urged those gathered in Bronson Park to work together to bring about reforms needed for an equitable community.

Throughout the crowd of about 250 in the park many held yellow crosses in honor of 181 black people killed by police since George Floyd’s death. Organizer Quinton Bryant said the crosses were yellow to signify hope that there will be an end to the police brutality and hope for a better tomorrow. 

One speaker told the crowd that all it takes is a caring heart to bring about change, while another recounted how George Floyd’s death opened the eyes of those who had been blind to the abuses perpetrated against Blacks at the hands of the police. Quoting Floyd’s daughter he said Floyd changed the world. 

A haunting bell rang out to mark each minute of the nine minutes and 29 seconds observed in silence — the time it took for a police officer to extinguish the life of George Floyd by holding his knee to Floyd’s neck. The murder by Derek Chauvin, then a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, touched off massive protests in communities across the United States and globally.

After the event, Wendy Fields, President of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo NAACP, predicted that Kalamazoo could become a county that others want to emulate. “We recognize systemic racism, hatred, discriminatory policies and practices, reform needed in law enforcement,  criminal justice systems, etc. Yet there are many of us who are hopeful and believe here in Kalamazoo, we can collectively make changes that are equal, equitable, and just. Think about what that would look like and what you can do to contribute. Now get to work!”

City and county officials as well as a contingent of Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers were in the park for the observance.

The event was sponsored by the City of Kalamazoo, Metropolitan Kalamazoo NAACP, Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, Gazelle Sports, the networking and exercise group Run This Town, Village in the Valley, a nonprofit organization founded to bring unity to the community.

Flags were flying at the event.

Wendy Fields, President of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo NAACP.

One member of the crowd maintained maximum social distancing.

A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Officer greets those gathered to observe George Floyd's death.

Yellow crosses show solidarity with the 181 black people killed by police since George Floyd has died.

Messages of reforms that must take place to create a just and equitable community were seen throughout the crowd.