Carrying bouquets of flowers and Black Lives Matter signs, hundreds of demonstrators marched through downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence.
The crowd gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center, fortified with fencing and concrete barricades, a sight not lost on demonstrators like Brandyn Tulloch, 24, of Oakdale.
"The city is preparing for the worst," he said, "because they haven't done anything over the last nine months. ... They do nothing to listen to the people who are out here fighting for our lives."
The march came one day before jury selection is set to begin in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing Floyd in south Minneapolis on May 25.
Throughout the two-hour march on Sunday, six volunteers, some of whom were friends with Floyd, carried a white casket covered with dozens of fresh roses. A large, peaceful crowd followed behind, marching to songs by Bob Marley, Prince and Sam Cooke on the balmy spring afternoon.
At 8th Street and Hennepin, the crowd sat down in the street for a moment of silence while attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong read from a list of every person killed by law enforcement in Minnesota since 1984.
"It's sobering, isn't it?" she asked the crowd after reading a fraction of the list, which includes more than 470 names and was compiled by the nonprofit Communities United Against Police Brutality, founded by Michelle Gross.
"The city had four chances to stop Chauvin before he put his knee on George Floyd's neck, and they did nothing," Gross told the crowd. "These are people whose families are left to grieve. These are people who will never complete their life's mission because their lives were stolen from them prematurely."
In the span of his 19-year career with the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was involved in two other deadly encounters with civilians and two nonfatal police shootings. Seventeen misconduct complaints were filed against him since 2001, but he was only disciplined once.
Before the march, faith leaders prayed for justice, unity and integrity in the judicial system. A grassroots group called Pray for MN, which formed in the aftermath of Floyd's killing, now has more than 150 partner churches. The group's spokesman, Clynt Reddy, said the trauma Minneapolis residents endured last spring after they saw the video of Floyd's last moments might resurface. To offer hope and a place of healing, partner churches are opening their doors on Monday at noon to pray for the community at the onset of the trial.
Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said Sunday's gathering was about community and reflection in the moments before the world again turns its attention to Minneapolis and the trial.
"We have to remember that a man lost his life, a family lost a brother, a family lost a father, they lost a son, they lost an uncle," Ibrahim said.
Ilyas Wehelie, 23, of Minneapolis, said he joined in a similar demonstration over the summer because it was "happening at my doorstep." He said Floyd is one of many lives taken by police.
"Maybe we should take time to reflect on how frequently it happens," he said.
Meg Puckett, 35, of St. Paul, arrived at the march with a bouquet of orange tulips. She noted that Sunday was the 56th anniversary of Blood Sunday, when hundreds began marching from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery as a national outcry and turning point for civil rights.
"I hope one day all of us are afforded equal rights and security," Puckett said. "Speaking as a Caucasian person, I won't rest until everyone of Minneapolis-St. Paul has the same rights I've mindlessly indulged in my whole life. ... I'll do everything I can to keep fighting."