Column: The vandalization of George Floyd’s statue is disgusting


Bryan R. Smith / AFP – Getty Images file

Kendal Manns, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

On Oct. 3, a statue of George Floyd was vandalized in Union Square Park in New York City, New York. The inhumane and unjust vandalization of Floyd’s statue comes just two days after it was unveiled. 

The statue is part of a group of three on display in Union Square. The other two are Breonna Taylor and civil rights activist John Lewis. Chris Carnabuci, a 57-year-old artist, created the statues to memorialize Taylor, Lewis, and Floyd. Carnabuci chose this location because it has a long history of protests and social gatherings, including the protests for Floyd and Taylor during the summer of 2020. 

With those sentiments in mind, it is disheartening and infuriating that a young man vandalized the statue by splashing it with gray paint. I think it is also worth noting that Lewis and Taylor’s statues went untouched. It makes you wonder why Floyd’s was vandalized in the first place. Lewis was a highly respected civil rights activists. Taylor was another victim of police negligence and was an unnecessary causality. The world saw Floyd’s murder on video. What about his situation would make someone splatter paint on his statue? 

From the moment the video of Floyd’s murder went viral on social media, there have been people that have tried to justify or dehumanize Floyd in his last moments, such as defense attorney Eric Nelson. Nelson echoed a sentiment that others have used, stating Floyd’s drug use and health problems were the cause of his death. After researching multiple instances of police brutality, I am accustomed to seeing and hearing people make excuses for why Black people deserve to die. Floyd’s situation still confused me. 

You would think after watching a video over nine minutes long of an officer kneeling on a man’s neck as he cries out for help, the public would be unanimously angry and sympathetic, right? Despite the video and the protests that ensued afterward, some people continue to bash Floyd’s name, whether it is vandalizing his statues and memorials or constantly defending his killer Derek Chauvin. No matter what there are always people that use situations like Floyd’s  to spread hate and to feed into the racist ideals that black people are always at fault. 

This type of action is unacceptable. No human being deserves the treatment that Floyd received. He should still be alive today. This man had a daughter who must grow up without her father. Vandalizing a statue or sentiment made in his memory is beyond disrespectful and frustrating. How much hate do you have to have in your heart to do something like this? 

As a young Black man, I look at Floyd’s situation and think that that could have easily been me, my father, my grandfather, or any of the men in my life. It brings tears to my eyes that this, unfortunately, is the reality that I live. In that reality, people will do anything they can to dehumanize and blame you for “not complying” or being a “threat.” While the killers of Black people like Floyd and Taylor are free to live their lives, they become hashtags and just names added to the list. 

That is why these statues are so important. They are meant to ensure people never forget about their stories and memories. They represent more than just Floyd and Taylor’s memories, but also the memories of all those wrongfully murdered by police. In the future, kids will look at those statues and the stories behind them will remind them of what tragically occurred. That is how you pay homage to those that are not here anymore and keep the fight for equality alive.

There will always be those that do not understand why we fight so hard for change. There will always be people like the man that vandalized Floyd’s statue. As much as it hurts to see it vandalized, I know that the statue is important, not just right now but for future generations as well. If our stories and our fight make them uncomfortable, then that means we are doing something right. No matter how much hate these symbols receive, they will never be able to erase the memory of those lives lost.