One year after Chauvin guilty verdict, George Floyd square a place of healing and reflection

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The memorial for George Floyd at 38th Street East and Chicago Avenue South in Minneapolis has drawn visitors from across the world. 

A map at the intersection is covered in colorful pins, which demonstrate people have traveled to Minneapolis from nearly every continent to mourn, reflect and process the life lost. 

A new coffee shop at the corner creates a space for them to congregate.

“We’re still mourning,” said Billy Jones, co-owner of ForReal Coffeehouse. “People come here from all around the world and sometimes talking is relief … this is a good place to talk about it and let things go.”

Billy Jones works behind the counter of ForReal Coffeehouse on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (KSTP/Callan Gray)

He’s a computer scientist who grew up in the neighborhood.

Jones explained the memory of May 25, 2020, is still fresh in his mind. He took cell phone video of former officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng holding Floyd down against the pavement.

“What should I have done? Should I have helped him? Should I have not? What would’ve been my fate if I did? It’s something that I reflect on for two years now, ” Jones said. “It changed my whole path of life.”

He hopes his coffee shops will foster community conversations.

“I feel like I was there to record that for a reason and now, instead of always pointing the finger, it’s what can I do,” said Jones.

The business had a soft opening on March 4. The official grand opening will be held on May 25, which will mark two years since Floyd was murdered.

He hopes the space will give young people a place to network and build their resume. The investment in the neighborhood is a step towards the vibrancy many hope to see at 38th and Chicago.

“I would love for it to look like 50th and France, Nicollet Mall,” said Bridgette Stewart, with the Agape Movement. “Booming, hustling and busting, an economic development, a place where children can come.”

She added, “It should truly represent the love of the community.”

Agape Movement has been actively doing outreach at George Floyd Square. Last year, the organization partnered with the City of Minneapolis to do engagement at the site.

“People come here from all around the world and sometimes talking is relief … this is a good place to talk about it and let things go.”

Billy Jones
co-owner, ForReal Coffeehouse

Stewart said she is left with mixed emotions a year after a jury convicted Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter.

“We’re still crying. We haven’t healed,” she said. “Every day we still see lots of people that come from all over the world inside of the square just to pay their respects and find some piece of healing.”

She added, “I just feel like there’s nothing that’s changed. Some days I feel very optimistic and other days like today, broken spirit and I wonder what it’s all for.”

Agape has been talking with those who visit the square, hopeful the community will grow together to make systemic changes.

At his coffee shop, Jones told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS his goal is to make sure Floyd’s memory is honored.

“There’s a lot more that can be done over here,” he said. “I hope people come in, let’s network, let’s figure it out as a community.”

The City of Minneapolis is currently working on a redevelopment plan for the 38th and Chicago intersection. A public hearing will be held on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the 38th Street Event Center.