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Black Lives Matter activists reflect on one year since civil unrest in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo - One Year Anniversary of George Floyd's Death
Posted at 11:27 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 16:59:20-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The anniversary of George Floyd's death sparks remembrance throughout the country and in West Michigan, but it also brings back memories of civil unrest like anger, frustration and chaos.

Nine minutes and 29 seconds is the time reflecting George Floyd's final moments alive. That time is what Kalamazoo Black Lives Matter activists want people to remember to honor him by standing in solidarity to keep pushing for change in Black and Brown communities.

"Nine minutes were unfortunately something that created havoc across the nation. It not only created havoc across the nation but also in our own city limits of Kalamazoo," said Black Lives Matter activist TC Custard.

Just one year ago, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of ex-Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin created civil unrest throughout the nation and in the city of Kalamazoo.

The anniversary sparked remembrance as Black Lives Matter activists and allies reflected through nine minutes and 29 seconds of silence on Wednesday.

"It is not that it is anything new to African Americans because we have seen this, but what it did was validate what we have been seeing for decades, for centuries," said the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP President Wendy Fields.

PHOTOS: Click here to view see pictures of protests and damage from one year ago

In that tragic event, it sparked conversation. It opened eyes and reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

"It’s important for us to show that we can come together and collaborate regardless of where we stand, because this was something that was tragic. Not only was it tragic but it broke our city apart," said Custard.

From peaceful protests during the day to a night of chaos with tear gas, protests and damage to buildings, activists said the last year has been about rebuilding.

"We’re still working on it, but it has been definitely better than last year," said Black Lives Matter activist Quinton Bryant.

"The reality of it is is change is not going to happen overnight. We need to be a little more proactive in engaging and understanding the Black and Brown community let alone our culture," said Custard.

On Wednesday, the anniversary of George Floyd's death, the president for the Metropolitan Kalamazoo branch of the NAACP Wendy Fields handed out yellow crosses to represent Black lives. Since Floyd's death, she said there have been 181 other deaths at the hands of police officers.

"We’re not going away and we will not be quiet. We don’t have to tear up things to get our message across, and we won’t. We will be steadfast in our movement and continue to move forward," said Fields.

By moving forward, BLM activists said the community needs to continue pressuring officials to be held accountable through transparency.

They also said it's time to work on changing policies and procedures to make it more fair for Black and Brown communities.

RELATED: Working to repair and heal Grand Rapids after civil unrest one year ago

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