A selfie photograph of George Floyd stands out at the Say Their Names Memorial Exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade in San Diego.
The black and white image has become iconic. Distributed globally, the photo depicts Floyd standing in front of a brick wall with his eyes darting down.
For Floyd’s family and much of the world, the May 25, 2020, murder of the 46-year-old promises to forever represent a significant day in America’s centuries-old criminal justice struggle.
Immediately following Floyd’s death and the release of the video that showed Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into the Black man’s neck for more than nine and a half minutes while other officers either held Floyd down or watched, renewed calls for reform and defunding the police emerged.
A jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and a judge sentenced him to 22 1/2 years behind bars.
Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death – Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng – also received federal guilty verdicts. Lane pleaded guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge earlier this month to avoid a state trial. He’s expected to serve two years in prison, while Thao and Kueng continue to await a trial scheduled this summer.
“[Floyd’s photo] is a positive image in a world still filled with too many negative portrayals of Black men,” Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump told MarketWatch.
“It helped shape the narrative in our fight for justice. I think images matter,” said Crump, who represented the Floyd family in a wrongful-death suit against the city of Minneapolis.
The city eventually settled the lawsuit, paying out $27 million to Floyd’s family.
Brandon Williams, a nephew of Floyd’s, told the publication that he, like most in the family, don’t know from where the selfie of Floyd originated.
He said media members and others simply grabbed Floyd’s photos off social media after his murder.
But the photo, where Floyd appears to have a look of contentment perfectly reflects his uncle, Williams stated.
“It symbolizes who he was,” Williams told the website.
“He was a very happy person,” he said, adding that other family members described Floyd as someone who kidded around often.
“The photo shows his quiet confidence,” Floyd’s aunt, Angela Harrelson, said.
Harrelson authored the book, “Lift Your Voice: How My Nephew George Floyd’s Murder Changed the World.”
“It’s like [he’s saying], ‘I’m here. Things are all right,’” Harrelson said.