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    eyes of a young woman

    Listen

    George Floyd’s neighbors speak their hearts

    John Noltner

    June 4, 2020

    Available languages: Español

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    • Timothy A. A. Stiles

      Thank you for sharing Mr. Noltner’s piece. Prayer. Contemplation. Action. Hope. Love.

    This article is part of the Arc of Justice series, responding to the killing of George Floyd and the international movement it has sparked.

    On the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by police last week, I went out to hear what was on people’s minds in the days following his death. A memorial on the sidewalk had grown to cover the street in messages of grief, determination, and hope. A mural of George was being painted on a wall. Cars blocked the streets. Families brought their children to bear witness to what had happened. The crowd was a mix of activists, onlookers, clergy, mourners, and artists. I asked anyone who wanted to talk to me a simple question: What do you want to say?

    Some people didn’t want to talk. Others did. Some of the most painful stories were too raw for people to want to share them publicly.

    There was a mix of celebration, anger, and tension. It felt like the evening protests would be large. It felt like the city would burn again, and it did.

    People are crying out to be heard.

    Listen.

    I saw soul-crushing weariness in my brothers and sisters on the street, a heavy burden that has been carried for days and years and decades of calling out and not being heard.

    What do you want to say?

    I see you.

    I hear you.

    And you matter.

    You are not alone.

     I don't want to be filled with fear every time me or my brothers go outside.
    There is no other time but right now to stand up and speak out for your fellow human beings.
    This is a terrible time in America. We need one another. God's last commandment instructed us to love one another.
    There is power in the people, in numbers, and together we will rise. It's our job to use our voices and speak for those who lost theirs.
    We as people would like to see more accountability. No longer should we be afraid. Unity is the call of the day. Stand up. Fight back.
    I'm trying to teach my daughter about racism and police brutality while at the same time raising my voice to hold those responsible accountable.
    What you tolerate today becomes commonplace tomorrow. To create a brighter future we must make a stand today.
    See it. Believe it. Work for it daily. This ain't over. My heart hurts.
    I coach in this neighborhood and want to stand up for these children so they don't have to go through this any more, even if it takes me to lay down my life, so be it.
    We can't breathe.

    All photographs used by permission from John Noltner.

    portrait of a young woman

    View all images from this exhibit.

    Contributed By

    John Noltner, a Minnesota-based photographer for national magazines and Fortune 500 companies, founded A Peace of My Mind in 2009. Visit apomm.net to learn more.

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