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Houston protests police murder of George Floyd

By Patrick Donovan |
June 7, 2020
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Protester in Houston, TX.
Protester in Houston, TX. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Houston, TX - The police murder of George Floyd, the catalyst of a national and now global wave of mass demonstrations against anti-Black racism and police brutality, took place in Minneapolis. But Floyd was a son of Houston, Texas, a longtime and much beloved neighborhood personality of the Third Ward, one of the city’s historic centers of African-American life. Judging by the sheer size of the recent protests in Houston, Floyd’s home city will never forget him.

The largest demonstration in Floyd’s honor in Houston occurred on Tuesday, June 2, when an estimated 60,000 people came downtown for a march and rally between the Discovery Green plaza and City Hall some ten blocks away. The massive march rendered the streets between those two locales overflowing with mourners from all quarters of Houston.

Hometown rappers Trae tha Truth and Bun B led the official remembrance ceremony. Their presence was appropriate given Floyd’s background in Houston hip-hop. In the 1990s, Lloyd rapped as “Big Floyd,” on several DJ Screw mixtapes. “Screwtapes,” as the mixtapes are called, remain a central fixture of Houston’s music history. Originally pressed in cassette form, they constitute a special (and quite extensive) collection from the legendary DJ Screw of slowed, remixes of hip-hop and R&B classics.

Those tapes also functioned as Screw-curated freestyle marathons showcasing local talent, especially in the Third Ward. Big Floyd shined memorably on his Screwtape appearances, rhapsodizing on Third Ward life on tapes such as “So Tired of Ballin” and "Sittin On Top of the World.”

Members of Floyd’s family were present. Also in attendance were organizations representing Black Houston life in all of its diversity, including the Lil Nas X-endorsed horsemen and women of the Nonstop Riders, an urban trail riding club out of the Third and Fifth Ward neighborhoods.

Although the event was city-endorsed and organized on terms friendly with the Houston Police Department, at several city intersections on the walk back to Discovery Green, cops clad in riot gear clashed with mostly Black protesters.

On both June 2 and earlier during a protest on Friday, May 29th, riot police surrounded for several hours, attacked using tear gas, and then, after the official events and out of media’s view, arrested hundreds of protestors, including passersby’s - jailing some for up to 36 hours without notifying arrestees’ family and friends of the nature of the charges.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has pulled off a tremendous PR stunt this past week, earning national plaudits as a “model police chief” for several viral videos in which he professes to be on the side of protestors. Conveniently, he lies by blaming clashes between his department and protestors on outsider agitators from Austin.

Moreover, Acevedo is hiding from anger around his officers’ recent killings of six people over the past six weeks. The footage of one killing to which the public does have access—that of 27-year-old Nicolas Chavez—contradicts Acevedo’s testimony that Chavez was a dangerous aggressor. In fact, the man was shot surrounded and on his knees, executed in the manner of a death squad.

Perhaps an appropriate way for Houstonians to honor the late George Floyd is to demand justice locally for similar victims of police murders at the hands of the HPD. And, of course, to invoke the Floyd’s memory wherever and whenever possible. Such efforts are already underway. At his old stomping grounds at Cuney Homes and in Montrose off Westheimer, his nickname has been graffiti-pasted to walls in broad letters and bright paint: “RIP Big Floyd.”