George Floyd was my friend.
We met while I was making my rounds as a volunteer chaplain. The Salvation Army Harbor Lights is a regular stop on my route. Floyd (I knew him as Floyd) was in a situation attempting to extract an inebriated guest from the building. He was new, and it did not go well … for Floyd. After he moved the gentleman out of the building, Floyd and I spent time together, one on one, discussing the event, sharing our histories, crying and praying together.
Our friendship was born.
Although his employment at Harbor Lights ended, I would see Floyd there, hanging around, visiting with the staff and guests, often with a kind word, an encouragement, or a funny story to share. He seemed to love to be among “the least of these” (as Jesus said). His escape from his hometown was to provide a geographic cure for his struggles, and the time he spent at Harbor Lights was salve on his wounded heart.
We did not spend as much time together as I now wish we had. Our encounters, except for a few, were brief — maybe 10 or 15 minutes. On a few occasions, as noted above, we went deep. Based on the time we shared, I would describe Floyd as:
• A big man (physically, you could not miss that).
• A giver. Floyd had a huge heart and held the world with a loose grip.
• A fighter. He was plagued with the same struggles many of us share, and he pushed against those desires, sometimes losing the battle, but he never stopped fighting.
• Tenderhearted. He found it easy to come to tears. He was never embarrassed to share from his heart.
• A man after God’s own heart. Floyd identified with David in the Bible who was first given this moniker. David was both a sinner and a saint. Floyd desired so much to become the latter.
• A friend. He would light up when he would see me. I know that he looked so forward to our conversations. I know he would call me his friend.
The Floyd I knew was a peace-lover. He detested violence. He cared for his family, in the best way he knew. He had a robust faith and wanted others to meet his God.
His legacy will live on, not through violence but through peace, justice and through real change in how we see and treat each other.
This isn’t only a police issue but an issue that continues to cut deeply into the core of our society. Judging someone based on appearance, color of skin or any other superficial trait is simply unfair. It’s wrong. No matter the color of your skin.
Remember, we all bleed red.
Richard Bahr is co-founder and chaplain at Threshold to New Life (a nonprofit working to reduce homelessness in the Twin Cities).