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18th Jun 2021

700-pound George Floyd statue unveiled in US

Charlie Herbert

The statue will be on display for at least a year.

New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, has unveiled a 700-pound (317kg) bronze statue of George Floyd outside it’s town hall.

The mayor of the city, Ras Baraka, revealed the statue in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 16, alongside filmmaker Leon Pinkney and several local activists. It was Pinkney who commissioned the statue, and it was created by artist Stanley Watts, who was also at the ceremony.

The statue depicts Floyd, who died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes, sitting on a bench, and will stay outside Newark’s town hall for at least a year.

Mayor Baraka said that he hoped the statue would inspire local residents to fight for racial justice and to keep up the activism that grew from protests on response to Floyd’s death in May 2020.

Speaking at the ceremony, Baraka said: “George Floyd represents a lot more than himself at this juncture in history.

“Hopefully when people walk by it and they see it…hopefully it inspires them to become active in the struggles that are happening right here in Newark and right here in New Jersey.”

Pickney said that the statue would serve as a reminder of the ongoing calls for racial equality and justice across the USA.

The filmmaker said: “The statue was to cause them to remember why they marched during such a horrific pandemic and I didn’t want them to go back to a status quo.”

Speaking about the statue’s design, sculptor Stanley Watts said: “The world needed a peaceful George.

“The world needed him relaxed and chilling on a bench and that’s what we produced and we produced him larger than life, because after death, George will be remembered.

“That’s what memorials are. To remember and never forget why we changed today and tomorrow and for the rest of our existence on this planet.”

The ceremony also honoured Juneteenth, which marks the day that slavery ended in the United States, on June 19 1865.