700-Pound George Floyd Statue Unveiled In Newark, New Jersey
New Jersey’s largest city has unveiled a 700-pound statue of George Floyd to be displayed outside its city hall for at least a year.
Newark mayor Ras Baraka revealed the statue in a ceremony on Wednesday, June 16, alongside filmmaker Leon Pinkney, who commissioned the bronze sculpture, and several local activists.
In a speech marking the occasion, Mayor Baraka said he hoped the statue would inspire local residents to fight for racial justice and keep up the activism that grew from protests in response to Floyd’s death.
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.
The larger than life bronze statue features a scaled-up full-length sculpture of Floyd sitting on the end of a park bench, allowing passers-by to sit with him and reflect.
Artist Stanley Watts, who is best known for his 9/11 memorial work To Lift A Nation, said he wanted to depict a ‘peaceful George,’ explaining, ‘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.’
Speaking at the unveiling, Leon Pinkney said he had wanted to commission the statue to help people remember the reason for the racial justice movement that grew from outrage over Floyd’s death in May last year.
‘The statue was to cause them to remember why they marched during such a horrific pandemic,’ he said, adding ‘I didn’t want them to go back to a status quo.’
The statue was officially unveiled outside Newark City Hall ahead of Juneteenth – the day that marks the emancipation of enslaved African Americans – on Saturday, June 19. The ceremony came on the same day that President Biden signed a bill to officially designate Juneteenth a federal national holiday.
The statue was donated to the city as part of a public art project for the initial period of a year, NJ.com reports, however Mayor Baraka said he hoped the statue may eventually come to be on permanent display in the city.
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