The City of Newark, New Jersey, paid tribute to George Floyd on June 16 when officials unveiled a larger-than-life statue in his honor.
The 700-lb. bronze statue depicting Floyd wearing comfortable clothing and sitting on a bench was presented to the public in its current position in front of the City Hall building. Local news station Pix 11 reports that officials plan to keep the statue in this location for at least one year in collaboration with the Division of Arts and Cultural Affairs, to recognize the effect of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder on the nation.
The city posted a photo of the statue with several notable citizens at a ceremony that also commemorated Juneteenth. Actor and filmmaker Leon Pickney commissioned the piece, sculpted by artist Stanley Watts, who has created other notable sculptures such as a 40-foot-tall bronze monument named “To Lift a Nation,” honoring the heroes of September 11, 2001.
“Today Mayor @rasjbaraka unveiled a donated statue honoring George Floyd in front of City Hall,” tweeted the City of Newark, “alongside Filmmaker Leon Pickney, Artist Stanley Watts, Activist Larry Hamm and more.”
Today Mayor @rasjbaraka unveiled a donated statue honoring George Floyd in front of City Hall, alongside Filmmaker Leon Pickney, Artist Stanley Watts, Activist Larry Hamm and more pic.twitter.com/nefig7fruE
— City of Newark (@CityofNewarkNJ) June 16, 2021
“The artwork honors the life of George Floyd, an African-American man who was brutally murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer,” organizers said in a news release ahead of the statue’s unveiling. “Mr. Floyd’s death elevated the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement which has resulted in an international response, including protests, police reform measures, and the removal of Confederate statues from public parks and racist names from organizations.”
Pickney hopes the statue will have a positive effect on people who see it.
“I was inspired the night that George Floyd was murdered and thought that we should have a statue of him, not to honor anything that he has done in his life nor that we have done, but to honor his humanity,” Pickney said at the unveiling. “And by honoring his humanity, we honor every other single person’s humanity.”
Mayor Ras Baraka said, “Hopefully it inspires those who walk by to be more active, take part in activism.”