Pelham residents pay respects to George Floyd through Wolfs Lane Park vigil

Over 100 Pelham residents observed a candlelight vigil held for late Minneapolis resident George Floyd at Wolfs Lane Park this Monday. With more events planned ahead, and all proceeds going to civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and Campaign Zero, organizers hope to highlight racial inequality and police misconduct in the United States through peaceful demonstration.

This vigil comes amidst unrest following the death of African-American Minneapolis resident George Floyd, whose on-video suffocation by a Minnesota police officer and subsequent death ignited nationwide protests and rallies against police brutality and systemic racism. Monday’s vigil, as described by event co-organizer Eliza Bratone, was neither a rally nor a protest; rather, it was designed to create a visual piece in Pelham to remember George Floyd.

The event itself was held surrounding the fountain of Wolfs Lane Park from 8-9 p.m., during which attendees were encouraged to place flowers, posters, and other sentimental items around a stylized portrait of Mr. Floyd. Participants were then led by event co-creator Greg Bratone in a moment of silence and kneeling for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of Mr. Floyd, who was suffocated on-video by a Minnesota police officer for approximately that length of time.

When asked about the goals of the vigil, organizers had outlined objectives. 

For Pelham, this is mainly a start,” said Ms. Bratone. “We’re trying to do it in a public place, multiple times, so people don’t forget this tragedy.”

In addition to their aim of memorializing Mr. Floyd in Pelham, vigil coordinators also had more steps in mind to combat the issue of racial injustice in America.

“Soon we’ll be doing an email list for supporters who would like more specific causes to donate to,” said co-organizer Tracy Childs. “That way, they can pick the one that resonates most with them.”

The event’s organizers had several distinct ideas for local-level government action in order to combat police brutality. These positions include mandating police body cameras, re-evaluating local law enforcement budgets in relation to crime rates, and acknowledging the systemic flaws of the American police system. 

“Contact your representatives, talk to your family members about these issues, and just stop being a bystander,” said Mr. Bratone. “If you want to be an active ally, there’s no days off.”

This ceremony will be repeated at Wolfs Lane Park by organizers, starting this Tuesday.