On Tuesday, May 25, Daniel Ceisler spoke at a memorial service in honor of George Floyd.
Around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, about 30 people gathered around the Harriet Tubman statue in Bristol Borough to honor the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.
Attendees gathered at 8:30 p.m. and began to light candles around the statue, though the wind continued to blow them out. At 8:46 p.m., all attendees took a knee and held their stance for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the approximate amount of time that officers kneeled on George Floyd until he was unconscious.
Floyd, a 46-year-old-black man, died a year ago after then-Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck, pinning him to the ground in Minneapolis. The killing was recorded and quickly went viral, sparking outrage around the globe. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted last month of murder and faces sentencing on June 25, according to the Associated Press.
The Bristol Borough event was orchestrated by Morris Derry, founder of No More Pain Inc., and Korah Steed, a Bristol resident and owner of Kortoure Boutique.
Derry, whose organization assists others dealing with drug abuse, homelessness and domestic violence, also orchestrated last year’s June Black Lives Matter rally in Bristol Borough. He said he wanted to continue on the anniversary date to honor and remember Floyd. Derry said that Floyd’s death affected him personally.
“I also believe it changed our country and opened everyone’s eyes in the right direction,” said Derry, of Bristol Township. “The goal behind last year and tonight is unity and bringing the community together and it’s all about showing we’re together as police and community and we can make that change together and George Floyd is the reason.”
Derry said he has attended over 30 protests since Floyd’s death, including Bucks County, Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Harrisburg.
Korah Steed said it was encouraging seeing so many people come out to honor Floyd’s death.
“I’m glad we’re still out here doing it and you see this crowd of different races and ethnicities – it’s a beautiful thing,” said Steed, of Bristol.
Speakers on Tuesday night included Brit Monitor, of Lower Bucks For Change. Monitor concluded their speech by saying “Black Lives Matter and Black Futures Matter, and George Floyd Matters.”
Another speaker was civil rights attorney Danny Ceisler, who launched a short campaign for Bucks County district attorney before ending it after he was deployed for military service.
Ceisler, 28, of Bristol Borough, said that it’s not enough for the public to remember Floyd’s death.
We have to get out and continue to fight for justice.
Some attendees were live-streaming the event on social media pages. Some were holding signs that read “Rest In Power” and “George Floyd Matters.”
Joseph Laster, 32, of Morrisville, had heard about the event over the weekend and made sure he could attend.
“It’s good to see that people still care about the thing that happened in the past and that we are here for the change. We need to keep coming out to events like this and have a positive attitude,” he said.
Morris Derry’s daughter was running around the Harriet Tubman statue. He said he worries both about his and his daughter’s life.
“I don’t want to be the next George Floyd. I don’t want my daughter to be the next Breonna Taylor,” he said as he held back tears, the orange street lights shining on his face.
The ceremony concluded with attendees kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the amount of time that had gathered mainstream attention and created a movement within itself.
Mothers and daughters knelt next to one another. Aside from passerby’s walking around, the crowd was quiet for the entire duration.
Derry said he plans on continuing to have events like these, including an upcoming Juneteenth event where he and others plan to educate the public on black history.
“[We need to] constantly, throughout these years, have events like this so we can educate and discuss unity and peace,” Derry said.
Despite the unfortunate circumstance for the anniversary event, Korah Steed said she was encouraged by Tuesday’s turnout.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, but this is a step. This is the beginning,” she said.
The Bristol Borough vigil wasn’t the only one. In the county seat of Doylestown Borough, the NAACP of Bucks County hosted a vigil outside the county Administration Building. Other vigils were held across the nation.