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'Pleas' for Change at Local Floyd Memorial

Katie Riordan


Speakers at a Memphis memorial service for George Floyd on Monday made their remarks in the form of “pleas.”

Pleas for justice, accountability, transparency, change and humanity. 

Floyd is the African American man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody, forcing officials and community leaders to grapple with deeply entrenched issues of racial inequality and excessive police force.  

The Shelby County Mayor’s chief of staff, Danielle Inez, had a plea for her 5-year-old son Joseph growing up as a young black man. He joined her on stage. 

“He’ll challenge what’s wrong, and sometimes he might ignore what’s right. He’ll hang out in bars. He might walk down the street in a hoodie,” she said. “Please don’t shoot him. Please don’t follow him. Please don’t harass him. Please don’t call the police to carry out your bigotry.”

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings pleaded for change through community collaboration with law enforcement.

“So the question I have for you today is how do you show love to your fellow man?” he asked. “How do we uplift our fellow man even if it is a Memphis Police officer?”

He added, “Do we have a long way to go? Yes, but I am not your enemy.” 

Credit Katie Riordan
Sheriff Floyd Bonner and Police Director Micheal Rallings at the service.

For nearly two weeks, thousands of local demonstrators have called for reforms, such as more officer training and a stronger citizen board for reviewing police misconduct. Protesters have condemned law enforcement’s use of tear gas and force two weekends ago in late night confrontations. MPD has said investigations are ongoing. 

Cries are also growing to redirect funding from law enforcement agencies to other programs. On Monday, an initial attempt to reallocate about 10 percent of the County Sheriff Office’s budget failed.  

After Monday’s service, County Mayor Lee Harris said public safety requires a holistic approach, including more programs for intervention. 

His plea focused on community building. 

“When kingdom comes, George Floyd will be able to say he left his mark on the world,” Harris said. “He has been a harbinger of one of the largest peaceful protest movements in U.S. history.”