‘Say Their Names’ cemetery in Minneapolis memorializes black Americans killed by police

In an open green space off 37th Street in south Minneapolis, a unique memorial has appeared.

It’s called the “Say Their Names” cemetery. Each of the 100 graves is inscribed with the name of an African American who was killed by law enforcement.

“Hopefully, this is a wake-up call between what we’ve been seeing around the city, around the country, and the world,” says David Smith, who wanted to see the memorial himself.

Anna Barber and Connor Wright, two University of Pennsylvania graduates, say they were shocked by the death of George Floyd, who died while former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was kneeling on his neck.

They decided to create signs cut in the shape of tombstones, with the names of each victim prominently displayed.

In front, decorated with flowers, is a marker for Floyd.

Read KSTP’s full George Floyd coverage

“It’s not a physical representation in the flesh, but now that you can put a name to a marker, and see, ‘Oh wow,’” Smith says. “Hopefully it turns the light bulb on for people to start paying attention, and figuring out, ‘What can I do as a citizen?’ No matter what my race is, no matter your socioeconomic status. ‘What can I do to make things better?’”

Barber and Wright traveled to the Twin Cities, and with the help of friends, made the signs, and planted them on Friday.

The display drew young and old, many of whom quietly strolled among the markers.

Sadly, the couple says, they’ve gotten word through social media of 13 more names, which will be added to the memorial.

A candlelight ceremony is planned at the site at 711 E. 37th St. for Sunday night at sundown.

“They had families, they had different roles in their communities,” Smith said. “And now they’re gone. That impact is forever gone.”