The Valley of Change hosted a vigil at the Sherman Oaks Galleria to celebrate Floyd's life.
By Isaac Dektor and Cassandra Nava, Staff Writers
At the corner of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards in front of the Sherman Oaks Galleria, organizers and supporters gathered on Wednesday around a portrait of George Floyd in a display of solidarity.
Valley of Change, a nonprofit that organized the event, continues to host rallies two years after Floyd’s murder. The vigil created a space to mourn his loss of life while advocating for victims of police brutality. Over honks of support, Valley of Change co-founder Latora Green and other attendees held signs, many of them reading “Black Lives Matter.” The portrait, painted by community member Lori Stanford, was surrounded by flowers and candles.
“We are about building up the Black community and the marginalized community,” said Green. “We are much more than being out here every day. It's more important for us to educate people.”
Across the country, community members gathered to commemorate the life of Floyd, who was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer two years from Wednesday.
May 25 marked the second year since the murder of George Floyd by former police officer Derek Chauvin. A viral video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds quickly circulated on social media, sparking protests and civil unrest across the nation.
“No one should lose a life like that,” said Jose Delgado, a second-year nursing student at Valley College. “Whatever crime — whatever he did before, no one deserves that.”
Chauvin was found guilty on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter by a jury last April. Former police officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were found guilty of depriving Floyd’s civil rights as they did not intervene as Chauvin murdered the 46-year-old man. Both Keung, Thao and a third former officer, Thomas Lane, face life in prison, pending a trial scheduled for June on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Organized by the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests in the summer of 2020 brought calls to defund police departments. The LA City Council responded by cutting the department’s budget by $150 million. This year however, LAPD has approved a $213 million budget increase, citing a dramatic rise in homicide, according to the LA Times.
President Joe Biden’s response echoed recent developments in police departments across the country as most opt to restore funding after slashing budgets in the wake of the unrest, which caused an estimated $2 billion in damages, according to the World Economic Forum. Minneapolis led the charge to defund the police in 2020, but have since restored its budget to $191 million, a figure close to what it was before Floyd’s murder.
“We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police,” said Biden at his recent State of the Union Address. “Fund them with resources and training. They need to protect their community.”