Kim Homes felt tears well up on Friday as she walked up to the corner of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, where a plastic projectile had struck her leg as she protested the killing of George Floyd.
She didn't see any police now. The National Guard had left. The looters were gone. The fires were out.
Hundreds of people had come to the Target parking lot to celebrate Juneteenth across from the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct headquarters, which demonstrators set on fire following Floyd's May 25 death under the knee of officer Derek Chauvin.
"When I found out [the celebration] was here, it gave me a good feeling," said Homes, who visited the event from north Minneapolis with her two children. "The positive vibe in this is great."
After more than three weeks of protests over police brutality and racial injustice, the annual holiday commemorating the news about the end of slavery in 1865 took on a deeper meaning in the Twin Cities and across the nation. Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed Friday as Juneteenth Freedom Day and called on the Legislature to make June 19 an annual state holiday.
People danced in the streets, listened to speakers, rallied at the State Capitol and held somber reflections at the corner where Floyd died. In dozens of events across the metro, they contemplated not just past freedoms won but also a way toward a more just future.
"I think it's a reminder for us ... to celebrate where we've come from, and at this point how much further we need to go," said Tiffane Gayle. "I think for us this celebration is about liberation, it's about freedom, and right now it does not feel as if we have the freedom that some people think that we have here."
From the stage, Brittany Lewis told the crowd that Juneteenth is a day that people are called to acknowledge the evils of chattel slavery and its aftermath.
"We are a community in dire need of healing," said Lewis, research associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The protests and riots following Floyd's killing created an "uprising where many who had been in denial about the depths of white supremacy and the institutionalized nature of racism in this country could no longer hide behind their own silence and fear."
Some African-Americans voiced pleasant surprise that after a lifetime of celebrating Juneteenth among themselves, they now saw far more people showing interest.
"It's been around for 155 years and I feel like America is just now acknowledging this history. ... It's a very important holiday, and now others are coming on board," said Raichel Brown.
Breyonne Golding, a city planner, was heartened to see more people learning about African-American culture and history.
"I really feel like Minneapolis is going to show the world how to finally do racial healing," she said.
North Siders could hear the music from the Cub Foods parking lot a few blocks away, as joyful revelers celebrated at a block party-style event.
In south Minneapolis, outside the CTUL workers center on Chicago Avenue near the spot where Floyd died, a gathering focused on freedom from police brutality.
There was a reading on the history of Juneteenth and a moment of silence for Floyd. Then Tony Williams, a contributor to the MPD150 project examining the history of policing in Minneapolis, took the stage. For Williams and others, policing only reaffirms the goals of slavery.
"I think the city is moving toward a new kind of abolition and seeing the connections between this and the abolition we had to go through to get through slavery," he said.
This year's celebration was unique both because of Floyd and the number of events happening across the city, said Philip Holmes, who's celebrated Juneteenth for 40 years.
"I love the energy and the festive mood of the people — that's what we want to keep alive and capture in the spirit of George Floyd," Holmes said.
But he added that he wanted "something that's more proactive and substantive. It's good to celebrate and things like that, but we need to change a lot of these laws that are detrimental to us."
Maiya Hartman celebrated by working on a mural to honor Floyd as part of a new artists' collective called Creatives After Dark.
"It's been really important to me, being a part of the movement of black artists getting our work out there. I think a lot of the art in this city is very saturated by nonblack artists," Hartman said. "This is our day."
She criticized the Floyd tribute in front of Cup Foods, which she said was largely the work of white artists, adding, "I think it's really important that we have black people telling our story."
Outside the State Capitol, a rally advocating reparations for slavery drew a few hundred quiet participants who sat in front of the steps listening to speakers and engaging in call-and-response chants.
Most proposals from the speakers were less about specifics than the need to continue momentum and stick together. One speaker asked for support to turn the torched Minneapolis Police Third Precinct property into a civil rights museum.
"It's going to take not one weapon but all weapons to dismantle the evil that is racism," said the Rev. James Alberts of St. Cloud, president of the faith coalition Isaiah.
Like many speakers, Alberts referred to Floyd's death. "If they are comfortable with their knee on our neck, they will leave it there," he said, adding: "I'm not afraid of their knee. It's been on my neck."
Staff writers Rochelle Olson and Zoe Jackson contributed to this report.