A group of protestors demonstrate outside of the Public Safety Building in Rapid City, South Dakota, following the Walk/Stand Up for George event in Memorial Park on May 30, 2020. Photo by Native Sun News Today

Native Sun News Today: A peaceful protest in Rapid City

George Floyd’s uncle speaks out

RAPID CITY – “We had a rainbow here today,” Selwyn Jones, uncle of George Floyd, said about a May 30 “Walk/Stand Up for George” event organized in Rapid City to bring attention to “the murder” of his nephew.

George Floyd, died on Memorial Day at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer which has sparked outrage and protests across the nation including Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and in 23 states: Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Video coverage of Floyd’s death was posted on the internet shortly after the incident that showed police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds of which Floyd was non-responsive.

According to a complaint filed in Hennepin County, Police were called after Floyd had allegedly used a fake $20 bill to make a purchase at a local Cup Food.

“When in the heck did forgery become a death sentence?” asked Jones. “All I know is somebody decided he don’t need to be here anymore.”

“Millions of people have watched my nephew get executed online. He died right before the eyes of the world,” Jones told Native Sun News Today.

Selwyn Jones attended the Walk/Stand Up for George event in Rapid City, South Dakota, as a gesture of solidarity in the death of his nephew, George Floyd, who he affectionately calls Perry. Photo by Native Sun News Today

The May 30 Walk/Stand Up for George event, which began at the Band Shell in Memorial Park, up to 5th Street then down to Omaha Street was organized by Jodi Prue, Madison Castaneda, Shaylene Cordero, and Becca Thompson.

Hundreds of people of all nationalities showed up in support, carrying signs that read: “Justice for George” “Stop killing us” and “Black Lives Matter” as they chanted “No justice, no peace. Say his name, George Floyd” and “George Floyd, I can’t breathe.” “It is so heartbreaking,” said Prue. “I recently lost my sister and father and that broke my heart, but watching that video broke my heart equally.”

“We are not trying to bring down our city, we just want change,” said Prue in light of riots in other cities.

After the walk, a smaller group of protestors left the walk and demonstrated outside of the Public Safety Building. One man was arrested during the smaller group’s demonstration when he was disrupting traffic on New York Street.

“Selwyn Jones was all over Memorial Park making sure all was going well and peaceful,” said Shirley Garnette, Oglala Lakota, who marched alongside Jones and his son Shawn York. “He seemed to really like us Indian people because we are really cool. We were calm and respectful.”

Jones who lived in Rapid City as a small business owner for over 20 years and now owns a motel in Gettysburg, along with his wife Joey, said, “George was the biggest gentle giant ever. He was a great athlete, and always had a smile on his face, and a good heart. All of this feels like you’re waiting for someone to slap you, and say ‘wake up!’”

Jones, who is originally from North Carolina, recalls his youth and the racism he experienced in the South. He says to look up pictures of lynchings and to take note of how white people pose in the photos.

“Did you see the look in his eye when his knee was on my nephew’s neck?” Jones asked. “It looked like he was holding a trophy.”

Jones said he declined to go to Minneapolis because of the violence that has erupted in the aftermath of his nephew’s murder.

“Me going to Minneapolis with those people raging the way they are, does not do my cause any good.”

“I’ve been dealing with this situation for 54 years,” he said. “Every time you see an injustice happen to a person of color, it breaks your heart.”


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Contact Anunkasan Was’te at cahunpigiwin@gmail.com

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