At the corner of change: 38th and Chicago
Photo: Julie Carpenter
A mural of George Floyd near Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis serves as a solemn beacon of remembrance.

Have you ever been to a place so iconic that the moment it came into view your breath caught? This past weekend I traveled to 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered. Although I’ve lived in Minneapolis most of my life, I was unfamiliar with this pocket of the city. The area itself is surprisingly residential, unremarkable — just a few brick front businesses, their windows covered now by plywood, but otherwise undamaged.
The neighborhood is remarkable now. Sunday morning, the area exploded in a chaotic mismatch of people. The street was littered with mementos of love —single flowers and bouquets in magenta, gold, tangerine and cream. Some were still wrapped in plastic sleeves. Brown, cardboard signs adorned the streets, as abundant as bluebonnets in the Texas spring. Most of the messages were scrawled, the work of a fast minute. But some were rendered slowly and deliberately. Whether artistry or pure feeling, it is the words that strike you, their messages both haunt and resonate. You read the words “I can’t breathe” until they catch in your throat. And “Black Lives Matter” is scribbled everywhere, on stop signs, buildings, the road.
Outside Cup Foods, the store Mr. Floyd had been in, there is a velvet roped-off area as if a movie premiere will begin shortly. Until you realize the open-ended rectangle of space is the exact spot where George Floyd died, Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck until he snuffed out Mr. Floyd’s last breath. I stood with one of my sons and my husband, but we did not speak.
The world moves on whether you are ready to or not. We walked around the corner and saw a now-infamous mural — a vivid blue background, George Floyd’s name in blocky orange letters, surrounding his image. His eyes are calm, almost as if he knows something we don’t know. In a black circle behind his head are the names of other black men and women murdered by police. So many names. And among all this chaos, that was where we found order. Because those names are written again. They march north up Chicago Avenue in neat, block, pastel-chalked letters. Here are just a few. Breonna Taylor, killed by Louisville police officers. Ahmaud Arbery, pursued, trapped and shot by three men, one a former police officer. And Botham Jean, killed a year ago September in Dallas, by an off-duty police officer.
Follow the names and you’ll walk past a charming neighborhood pond, home to painted turtles and mallards, and to what must have been an empty field two weeks ago. I suspect local kids played football and soccer there. Not anymore. Now it’s filled with neat lines of makeshift headstones of those same names again, listed with the date of their murder, the city where they were killed, and the words, Rest in Power.
The streets were filling up now. And we’d taken our moment in the presence of this community. When you are there, steps from this now iconic curb where so many have watched the graphic murder of a man, it is easy to feel the power we need to fight racial injustice. The vibrancy of that area deceives you. It dupes you into believing we stand at the precipice of change. But I believe change is possible. But we need to channel the strength and righteousness of our anger. What I felt in Minneapolis this past weekend, what so many of us are feeling, we need to carry it with us every day so we can fight for justice, fight against racism, and fight to repair our world.
A native of Minneapolis, Julie Carpenter now makes her home in Dallas.

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