FARGO — George Floyd's death a year ago wasn't forgotten in Fargo.
Roughly 70 people gathered in Island Park on Tuesday, May 25, to pray, pay respects and take a knee in many moments of silence, 9 minutes and 29 seconds in fact, which was how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck.
In another remembrance, Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney and Police Chief David Zibolski issued a statement Tuesday night marking the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death.
"We continue to mourn and offer our thoughts to his family, friends and millions who continue the needed work of improving our society in the aftermath of his untimely and unnecessary death," they said.
Floyd's murder sparked a nationwide movement for racial justice and to seek police reform. Local activist Wess Philome reminded the crowd that Fargo was a part of it then, too, with thousands of people joining in a march through the streets of Fargo.
This time, the crowd wasn't as big, but the mix of white, black and brown people came with flowers and vows to continue the fight against racial injustice and police brutality that they said results too many times, in death.
"We need to humanize black people, especially those affected by police violence," Philome said. "Black lives do matter. All human beings deserve to live full lives."
Black Lives Matter leader Faith Dixon added that the event was for the community, as the fight continues in Fargo for more love than hate and for change.
One young Moorhead teen in the crowd, Ella Larson, who just turned 14, said she came to the gathering because she believes "everyone should be treated equally."
Lifelong Fargo resident Em Mercier, who brought flowers to the event, said she came to pay her respects to Floyd but also for "all black men and women who have died because of police brutality."
Pastor Gloria Shields of Fargo started off the program by offering prayers "to comfort the hearts of those who have lost loved ones."
She prayed for "courage for those who continue to push forward for change and for lawmakers to represent all of us."
In offering comments afterwards, she said it can be "exhausting and tiring" to go against the grain.
"I don't want to get tired. I want to go beyond tired. I don't want to shut my mouth, even if it's uncomfortable," Shields said, adding she's learned that "one voice can make a difference."
Dixon told the crowd, "We have to do better. We have to speak out against hate. And we need to say it's wrong to take someone's life."
She described Fargo as a "beautiful community," stressing however that not everyone is treated equally.
Mahoney and Zibolski added in their statement: "In the Fargo community, there is absolutely no acceptance of discrimination of any kind. All — everyone — are welcome here."
Throughout the last year, the community has engaged in "critically important community conversations to establish, build and strengthen relationships in the Fargo metro and beyond. These conversations have made all of us better and while there is much work left to be done, we look forward to growing together and continuing to earn the public's trust as we move towards a unified community."
Philome and Dixon told the crowd about two upcoming events, a Fargo City Commission meeting on June 1, and an event on Juneteenth, June 19.
The commission meeting will cover the proposed city hate crime ordinances, pushed by City Commissioner Arlette Preston, which will be up for a vote. Philome urged residents to email and call city commissioners or show up at the meeting.
A Juneteenth event in Lindenwood Park is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. on June 19, with family events and speakers. Moorhead is also planning a celebration that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Gooseberry Park. The events mark a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who were slaves in America.