MINNEAPOLIS - Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd in south Minneapolis, an incident that sparked months of protests and rioting across the world over police brutality against minorities.
Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in Floyd’s death on April 20. Just nine days before that, and during Chauvin’s trial, Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop when Brooklyn Park officer Kim Potter grabbed her gun instead of a Taser.
Minnesota’s sports teams have been at the forefront using their platform and their voice to fight for justice and racial equality, with Floyd’s death happening in the heart of the Twin Cities. Perhaps none more than the Minnesota Lynx. Coach Cheryl Reeve was asked to reflect on the anniversary of Floyd’s death, as the WNBA continues to push efforts for police reform across the country.
Reeve says the team’s efforts started in 2016, after Philando Castile was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in St. Anthony. It was a campaign called, "Change Starts With Us."
The Lynx were in virtual training camp and about to head to the WNBA bubble in Florida when Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. While they were in the bubble, they postponed a game in protest after Jacob Blake was killed by police in Kenosha, Wis.
"We talked a lot about our actions in 2016 and the ways that we wanted to try to create conversation around change. The importance that we needed to do even more, that this was unacceptable and to continue to use our voices," Reeve said. "Being in the bubble together as a league, we had the chance to do so much more and amplify the need for criminal justice reform, the need for reforming our policing. We’ve had a chance to really educate ourselves on the ways we can enact change."
The team didn’t have specific plans to commemorate Floyd’s death, but guard Crystal Dangerfield said was considering visiting George Floyd Square at 38th and Chicago on Tuesday to pay respects to Floyd and his family.
The Vikings, Timberwolves, Lynx, Wild and Wild all posted remembrances on social media to honor the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.
The Twins host the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night at Target Field, and the team announced plans to honor Floyd pregame. They already have a banner honoring Floyd, displayed in left center field. They’ll play videos on the scoreboard emphasizing their commitment to change and racial equality, and the efforts the Pohlad family is making locally to help create positive change.
Members of the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of the Twin Cities will be involved in the ceremonial first pitch, and Twins’ employees will line the warning track in left field wearing "End Racism" shirts.
So what’s the next step in social justice causes? Reeve says voting to create change, and having meaningful conversations.
"The next step is the actual reform component to it. What are we learning about that needs changing? When we hear something that we know needs real reform, we’ve got to talk about it," Reeve said.