Members of Visual Black Justice reflect on an emotional week in the metro
From the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright to the trial of Derek Chauvin, "traumatizing" is a word many are using to describe the past year in Minnesota.
But now other words include "hope" and "healing" as a growing number of groups and organizations work to accelerate change.
“I felt a sigh of relief, but I feel the fight isn’t over,” said Daemeah Kareeah of Minneapolis. “It’s the pain and trauma that just doesn’t seem to go away.”
But on Sunday afternoon, not far from George Floyd square, there was a gathering that included music, games and even a sense of hope.
“Really want to bring the community together to take that time to process,” said Athena Papagiannopoulos, the founder of Visual Black Justice. “Then just come together, like laughter, and hugs and be happy.”
She describes her 60 members as an artistic social justice group that uses visuals to tap into emotions and promote change.
Visual Black Justice hosted the event in Phelps Park after a week in which a jury convicted Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter for Floyd’s death and funeral services were held for Wright, who was fatally shot by now-former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter on April 11.
"It’s a lot, it’s an emotional burden, very traumatizing to see the same thing going on and going on,” Kareeah said.
The 19-year old — just one year younger than Wright — says this week has been a rollercoaster of emotions.
"I’m very inspired but also saddened by everything that’s going on,” she said. "There need to be more laws to be implemented to prevent this from even happening."
"Everyone keeps saying we’re getting justice, but it’s really accountability that’s all we’re asking for,” Papagiannopoulos adds. “It’s straight up accountability for every single person in their job and what they do."
But after a trying year, Visual Black Justice is using art as a way of healing.
Dozens of works are available for viewing on the group’s social media page.
"It’s a huge way of expression for me,” explains 13-year old Nathan Gonzalez.
He says art gives him strength and hopes the pieces displayed by the group will inspire young people to challenge social injustice.
"It’s affecting us because if we don’t do stuff about it now, who will?” Gonzalez said. “How will it affect our lives in the future? We have no choice but to speak up and to notice it."
Papagiannopoulos and others say the world was watching the Chauvin verdict.
They say they hope George Floyd’s death will help make lasting reform and change
"I’m hopeful with this that we can keep moving forward and we see the change for him, so we need to see the change for the world,” Papagiannopoulos says.