Members of George Floyd's family were in Los Angeles Friday to launch their “Thank You Tour” across the U.S. to show their appreciation for the millions of people who protested in 2020 to demand justice and call for an end to police brutality and racism after Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
Selwyn Jones, Floyd's uncle, spoke during the tour's launch in Leimert Park and announced the family's new nonprofit, “A Soulful Heart Memorializing George Floyd, Inc.,'' which he said will promote respect, trust and love, as well as empower people to make positive changes in their lives.
“We want A Soulful Heart to be a global connection, helping individuals to develop the skills, competence and resources they need to handle future crises more effectively,'' said Jones, who will serve as the nonprofit's president.
The nonprofit will specifically focus on helping young people with everyday challenges, as well as help them advocate for social changes, Jones said.
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“My nephew's murder was a sacrifice needed to wake up America. His loving soul has transformed my life and now I intend to pass that on to transform other lives. George Floyd's soul will continue to infuse us with energy and determination,” added Jones, who lives in South Dakota.
Floyd's family -- including Jones, Floyd's brother Terrence, and a dozen other relatives -- are finalizing plans for their “Thank You Tour,'' with stops in New York, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago planned.
Millions of protesters nationwide took to the streets repeatedly in May, June and July 2020 to demand justice for George Floyd, who died May 25, 2020 after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the 46-year-old man's neck for several minutes while three other officers looked on.
Video footage of the arrest, in which Floyd is heard saying "I can't breathe," spread widely online, and all four officers were fired. Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The protests are believed to be the largest in U.S. history, with polls finding that between 15 million to 26 million people participated in demonstrations nationwide
Jones added that the U.S. "can and must" do more to protect Black people from dying at the hands of officers. Noting the massive amount of people who marched across the U.S. when his nephew was murdered, he said, "Was it enough? Not yet."
“I will personally engage in 'good trouble' and push the John R. Lewis Voting rights Advancement Act of 2021, also known as HR4,'' Jones said.
He added that he would be speaking with elected officials who are resisting the legislation, which would establish new criteria for determining which states must obtain preapproval from the U.S. Department of Justice before changing voting laws, in an effort to stop discriminatory voting laws that make it harder for Black Americans to vote.
Los Angeles civil rights activist Najee Ali hosted Floyd's family Friday at Community Build for the tour launch event. Ali had traveled several times to Minnesota to support the family following George Floyd's death, and he said that Community Build CEO Robert Sausedo sponsored the trips.
Ali said that the news conference Friday was meant to focus on the announcement about the foundation, but that the Floyd family plans to make an announcement supporting Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, in her campaign for mayor of L.A.
Bass authored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the U.S. House but was blocked by the U.S. Senate in 2020.
The bill would end qualified immunity protecting officers from civil lawsuits, as well as ban certain dangerous officer tactics, including carotid holds and chokeholds. Police agencies would have to outlaw the practices in order to receive federal funding.
The bill would also make it easier to prosecute officers who engage in misconduct and create a ban on no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, as well as withhold funding to agencies that don't institute bans locally.
It would also introduce improvements in training and investments in police community programs.