Friday, June 4, 2021

Roosevelt Island Residents Gather Together At Meditation Steps For Vigil And Program To Remember May 25, 2020 Murder Of George Floyd - Organized By RIRA Public Safety Committee And Young Generation Of Roosevelt Island March For Justice Activists

A year ago yesterday, June 3, 2020, a group of young Roosevelt Island activists were among the organizers of an inspiring Roosevelt Island March For Justice from the Cornell Tech campus to Good Shepherd Plaza protesting the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

On Tuesday, May 25,2021 the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Public Safety Committee (PSC) together with two of the young March For Justice activists, Joie St. Hubert and Zoe Lopez, held a vigil and program at the Meditation Steps in memory of George Floyd's murder one year ago.

After the program, I asked the organizers, Joie St. Hubert, Zoe Lopez, Erin Feeley-Nahem, Ike Nahem, Frank Farance and another young resident, Dleanna H. what the Roosevelt Island George Floyd remembrance meant to them.

According to Joie St Hubert:

As a young black person in America, honestly, it gives me hope that these conversations are starting to be had and as much as we have not made as much progress as we wanted, the fact that conversations are slowly starting to happen, it encourages me.

And Zoe Lopez:

We're hopeful, we've made progress since last year. We'll make progress next year.

The only thing about being on the Island is you don't see these things happening. Obviously, being here we're a lot more sheltered which is why we need to have these conversations but it doesn't happen as much here. We're relatively safe in our little two mile radius and as soon as you go across the Tram it changes. 

 Joie St Hubert added:

I think it's beautiful that as a community we were able to come together and recognize that you know these awful things are going on and these injustices. We're able to as a community come together. To me that was really powerful.

Erin Feely-Nahem said:

... We need to keep the pressure on.  For us today, inspired by the actions that they had done last year, which we were unable to attend, we wanted to do something in conjunction together. Almost like handing over to the next activist the way forward. Being part of that and sharing that experience, it meant that our community was not only able to acknowledge that this is a reality but start to work together to fight against it.

It's also RIRA coming back....

And Ike Nahem:

...I've been involved in struggles like this since I was a teenager, since I was the age of some of these young activists so it it certainly gives me great satisfaction to see a new generation of young people becoming conscious and engaging in a struggle. 

The fact that we have a community here, that as these two young sisters just said, the fact that we are on Roosevelt Island have been able to push back because of the past struggles that took place seven years ago, now eight years ago, to win some advances that create more space and constitutional policing but it's a constant struggle...

And Frank Farance:

... Roosevelt Island should be an examplar for all of the things that have happened here, both bad and good. This is a model community for how it's done right....

... As someone who's grown up in the civil rights movement, I'll just say I thought we were making progress for many years. I feel like in the past year, past couple years, I didn't realize how fragile all the progress was that we made in the past 50 years, but I'm glad to be here on Roosevelt Island because this really is a model for elsewhere. ...

Zoe Lopez added:

Absolutely, like what you were saying, public safety works because it wasn't built on racism....

And Dleanna H:

It meant a lot to me because I went to the first protest that happened last year and now I'm at this one today and I just wanted to reflect on this past year. 

It really does mean a lot to see what changes, if there were changes, if there weren't changes, just evaluate and think about what has happened over the past year.

But think about these moments, these people who have died because of what is going on and just keep them in our hearts and in our heads and just think about and pray about them for the rest of our lives. This is a time to remember, especially for people of color, and just people out there, just to think about what has happened

Watch the full interview


and Joie St Hubert ending the program with a beautiful performance of Lift Every Voice, often referred to as the Black National Anthem.

Here's the entire May 25, 2021 Roosevelt Island Vigil and Program in Memory of George Floyd.