More than 100 locals gathered about noon Tuesday at Mancos Boyle Park to memorialize the life of George Floyd and to protest systemic racism.
The peaceful prayer vigil was hosted by the Mancos United Methodist Church, with Pastor Craig Paschal presiding over the event. He noted that Floyd’s funeral was happening in Houston that very same day, and that it was important in this “pivotal time” to stand in solidarity with his family, friends and the African American community.
“We’re going to be rooted in that grace, compassion, peace and nonviolence,” Paschal said. “And that’s why we’re here today.”
Participants came wearing masks and coats to protect against the chilly wind. The event lasted about 20 minutes, and included a prayer for Floyd and a short call-and-response period, with shouts of “Say his name!” to responses of “George Floyd.”
Floyd, a black man in police custody, died May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes, despite Floyd’s pleas for air.
Paschal also gave attendees some food for thought, as did Desiree Dainty-Guilfoyle, a rising high school junior who spoke about what Floyd’s death meant to her.
Dainty-Guilfoyle said Floyd’s death was tragic, but that with tragedy came an opportunity for change. On her end, it has been difficult to be the only female African American student in her school, she said.
“It was really, really hard to go to school every day,” she said.
She said she feels lucky not to have faced extreme racism like death threats, but said that she still has faced bullying and hardship.
“I’m different because of my color, but that doesn’t mean I’m different because of my soul,” she said.
Paschal then led the crowd into a moment of silence that was 8 minutes and 46 seconds long — the length of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. Some participants sat or knelt, while others lay face-down on the ground in the position Floyd had been in on May 25.
“We’re kneeling today and standing today, acknowledging that pain, acknowledging the systemic racism in our country,” Paschal said after the prayer concluded. “And we’re standing with the hope that this can be a moment that we change.”