There’s no room for personal bias as illustrated by massive demonstrations across the country and worldwide in wake of the death of George Perry Floyd, after he was pinned for nearly nine minutes beneath a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on Memorial Day.
Moved by the incident, joining millions in watching the disturbing images were Khalil Murdock and Noah Kuhn, along with other members of the Anti-Bias Club at South Pasadena High.
In a widely circulated video taken by a cellphone, Floyd, who was black, is shown on the ground, handcuffed behind his back, as Officer Derek Chauvin, white, applies his knee to the man’s neck. Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe,” the video ending with paramedics lifting Floyd’s limp body onto a stretcher before placing him in to an ambulance. Shortly after, Chauvin and three other officers were relieved of their duties. In early June, charges against Chauvin were upgraded from third degree murder to second degree and the other officers – Thomas K. Lane, J Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao – were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Murdock came up with the idea for the South Pasadena City Council to commission a mural in town celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement and Kuhn acted on it by firing off a letter to the 5-member panel pushing the concept.
“This would act as a physical reminder for residents to keep working to be anti-racist and striving for inclusion and equality,” wrote Kuhn in his correspondence.
In the letter, Kuhn said the Anti-Bias Club, which he and Murdock strongly support, is willing to help work out with logistics “because we believe this is an extremely important time in this city and the world, and we want to collect it in the form of art for future generations,” he said, noting the city commissioned artists to paint the utility boxes in the city, believing the newest artwork would be welcomed by the community. “While the streets and social media have been filled with activism, we know all too well that the awareness might very likely die away in a few weeks when George Floyd’s murder becomes yet another statistic. This is especially true in South Pasadena where very few residents are black and we often consider ourselves a little suburban bubble to the outside world.”
In response, South Pasadena City Councilmember Marina Khubesrian believes the mural is “a really great idea!” she wrote in a note to Noah. “I think we can get this done and I will try to help you navigate the steps and any obstacles that may arise.”
Khubesrian hopes to get the city’s Public Art Commission help launch the effort.
“As far as funding,” noted the councilmember. “I’m happy to use some of my Council discretionary funds to help with costs if needed.”
A mural, according to Kuhn “would ensure that we remember our responsibility to fight against racism, even after the protests stop,” he said. “It is great to see that South Pasadena, a community that brands itself as a progressive, inclusive town, is finally being filled with calls for policy change and action surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. Creating a mural in the city would capture the current activist sentiment, memorializing it in art as a reminder for future generations.”