On Memorial Day (May 25), George Floyd pleaded for his life as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck. A nearly nine-minute viral video of the encounter showed Floyd declaring he couldn’t breathe and eventually going limp. As a result of his death, and the recent deaths of others such as Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, several cities throughout the country have experienced days of unrest. (Floyd’s brother has called for an end to violent protests.)
Amid protests against police brutality in New York, D.C. Atlanta, Los Angeles, Louisville and elsewhere continue, 10:22PM and LVRN-signee OMB Bloodbath is in Houston, where Floyd grew up, mourning the loss of a mentor and friend. The following remembrance is in her own words, as told to Jewel Wicker.
I’ve known Floyd since I was a child. We came up in the same neighborhood, 3rd Ward, Houston, Texas. He was everyone’s uncle and godfather. If you came up in that area, you knew who he was. He was just a very warm-hearted, nurturing dude. Anybody who was young and coming up, doing something with their lives, he made it a purpose to give them encouragement.
I have a billion memories of Floyd. They used to go out and gather up all the chairs and have church in the middle of the projects. There was a time when Floyd went out there with a kiddie pool and was helping baptize people. He had a good aura about him. You look at a dude that big and think he has to be some type of extra-hard gangsta, but he was the exact opposite. That’s why you hear a lot of people call him the gentle giant. He had a heart of gold.
The last message I got from Floyd was three weeks ago on Instagram. After he died, I was reading our previous messages and I looked at the last message and noticed it was a long paragraph of him talking to me about what I had going on recently. He said, “I’m so proud of you and the way you have evolved. Growth is gradual. You just seem to be in a different gear. Your hunger is undeniable and the industry has no choice but to fold because you’re a kick-door musician. It’s only the beginning and it’s so much coming your way. Through my eyes your career has grown into something even bigger than music. You got ‘em, kid. And all I’m asking you to do for me and our whole camp is keep that strong connection with father God. And with that the countdown has already begun. Love you, champ. Keep winning.”
That’s the type of message he’d send me out of the blue. I’m glad I didn’t read it at the time because it was like his goodbye to me. It makes me want to go harder and keep making him proud. It’s another push to keep going harder. That was someone who just genuinely wanted to see me make it, without wanting anything in return.
In America you see this all the time, but when you see somebody that you love and it happens to them, it hits differently. To watch a nine-minute video of somebody that you love and look up to just being abused and sitting there lifeless… I feel like all four of the officers involved in George’s death need to be arrested. They all need to be charged with murder, not third degree murder. George is gone forever. He’s never coming back. He’s leaving a whole family behind.
I just feel like people are tired of dying in the hands of the people who are supposed to protect and serve. I feel like that’s why people are going so hard. I don’t agree with the looting, but I do agree with the rioting. Clearly, when you peacefully protest, they don’t listen. You can march all day and meet up at City Hall, but until you really get in these people’s faces and get them to understand your hurt and anger… A lot of these people who are breaking stuff and setting stuff on fire, they’re tired. They have every right to be angry. It’s hard for people to express themselves when their voices aren’t heard when they try to do it in a peaceful way.
There’s a park in my neighborhood and little kids say, “Leave the police alone. They’ll kill us.” For three- and four-year-olds to be saying that, you know it’s all too common. The one thing that puts me in peace is I know he didn’t die in vain. When my kids have kids, I want them to be able to tell the world about how George Floyd shook the world up.