Flatbush bids farewell to George Floyd statue

Terrence Floyd looks up at his brother’s statue in Flatbush on July 22.
Photo by Dean Moses

The Flatbush community came together on Thursday to pay their respects and bid adieu to a six-foot-tall statue commemorating George Floyd, before it travels New York City.

The statue — a 500-pound wooden bust of Floyd’s profile at Flatbush Junction — was unveiled last month as part of borough-wide Juneteenth celebrations, and was made by artist Chris Carnabuci in partnership with social justice-oriented art group ConfrontART and Floyd Family nonprofit We Are Floyd Foundation.

It stood for just five days before being defaced, but many in the area rallied to help restore the art project to its former glory — and on its last day in Flatbush, area Councilmember Farah Louis joined with Floyd’s brother, Terrence, to say thanks to the community.

“I just want to say thank you, thank you to Brooklyn, to Flatbush, you really held it down,” said Terrence, George’s Brooklyn-based brother who helms the We Are Floyd Foundation.

Terrence was in Minneapolis for the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was found guilty of murdering his brother, when the statue was desecrated by a white supremacist group.

“You really supported us, looked out for the statue, you looked out for the spirit of my brother, and I so appreciate y’all,” he told the crowd Thursday.

The event was celebrated with musical performances.Photo by Dean Moses

Floyd’s killing by a Minnesota police officer last summer spurred thousands of Americans take to the streets in response to the police killings of unarmed Black people — and caused national legislators to mark the holiday representing the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

Under the gaze of Floyd’s statue, a free food giveaway drew dozens of locals lined up around the block. Those who stopped by received complimentary bags of canned goods, fruits, vegetables and other produce. After families had collected a feast, they whipped out their cell phones to record rappers and trumpet players beneath the likeness of Floyd.

In memory of his sibling, Terrence founded the We Are Floyd Foundation, an organization dedicated to giving back to the community through mutual aid and social justice actions aimed at helping those in need, such as the evening’s makeshift food pantry. Louis helped co-host the event and even rolled up her sleeves to assist in the food distribution, after which she gushed over her district.

Councilmember Farah Louis helps distribute food at the “Thank you” event in Flatbush.Photo by Dean Moses

Citing the countless school trips and worldwide media that traveled to 1545 Flatbush Ave. to see the Floyd statue up close, Louis voiced her pride.

“Thank you for allowing us to put this statue here and for receiving it with welcoming arms,” she said. “For many — myself included — this statue is a reminder of where we have been and where we need to go. It is also an expression of Mr. Floyd’s legacy and the beauty and resilience of Black America in the face of centuries of systemic racism.”

On its last night in the area, the statue served as the backdrop of a celebration. The artwork will now travel around New York City in hopes of showcasing it to as many eyes as possible. Its next stop is scheduled to be Union Square in Lower Manhattan.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.