Love Abides Here: A Return to 38th & Chicago

The overwhelming emotions that led to nation-wide protests last year have begun to subside, but many of the conditions that caused them still remain. Cover photo by Julie K. Taylor, painting by Peyton Scott Russell.

It has been six months since George Floyd died near the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. Not long after that I chronicled the event in a photo essay, sharing my view of the aftermath of his death in early June, and recently I was compelled to return to this revered place in our city. I encountered a very dissimilar scene compared to what had seen before. It was a chilly day late in November. The sun was brilliant and indifferent to the cold but my hands knew the difference; the frosty air immediately numbed my hands.

The site had been blocked off from traffic on three sides. After I left the car on a side street about a block down, I walked into the enclosure, passing a few people as I walked in. I passed by concrete barricades….one had the word “UNITY” spray-painted on it and the other had the phrase “LOVE ABIDES HERE”, written in bright pink letters. The barricade and messages could be seen effortlessly by the cars rolling by. I passed by a long fence made of wood, with more bright-hued letters rendered raw and loose, as if mirroring the lifestyle of Mr. Floyd, or at least how I have come to comprehend it.    

As I continued, I walked down an alley and along the side of one of the buildings – a barber shop that was completely covered in a motley medley of graffiti that jumped off of the walls. I was overcome with the feeling that masses of people had used this area to air their frustrations and pain. While there was very little actual noise – the hum of people chatting nearby, a car door slamming in the distance – this place was reverberating with the echoes of strong voices from the past. They were loud, and louder still in some areas. The statements were an out-pouring of angst resulting from centuries of no one listening or responding appropriately. We still live in a time and place where placating is the norm; truly receiving or hearing is scarce, and the culmination of that obstinate stance is evident here, resonating in these words, these walls, these flowers, these signs, this place.

Julie K. Taylor | Light And Matter Painting by Peyton Scott Russell.

I found myself in front of the now-iconic George Floyd mural. Six months ago I had to struggle with a crowd to place my feet in a decent spot to take the earlier images; today there was but one gent looking intently at the large mural. The flowers and tributes were now gathered into a small pile in front of the mural; a tiny teddy bear now taking a place of honor. Someone cared enough to share that little bear.

As I rounded the corner I walked up to Cup Foods, the storefront where George Floyd met his untimely death. It is still in operation. I said hello to a few folks coming out from inside. In front of the store there was an area that was roped off. “This is the place where George lost his life” I said in a hush to myself. There were many flowers, gifts, signs and tributes that seemed to go in unending succession. Off to the side I noticed a large image of Mr. Floyd….perhaps about 8 feet high and 10 feet long. These images provide a stark reminder that someone was murdered right there in that place. Those of us who live here still can’t believe this happened in our city. The intersection is called George Floyd Square. If you just stand here and turn your head you will see signs and images that seem to scream “Help! Notice us! We matter too! Why?! Not again! No more! We cannot stand for it, and will not!”

Julie K. Taylor | Light And Matter

I walked near five paintings, all lined up in a row, neat and orderly; depictions of five martyrs of a new era: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Jacob Blake and Elija McClain. Five humans. Precious, loved, gifted. Five people who did not sign up to be representatives of something beyond themselves. The paintings of these five people whom met such an unfair finality are short and curt, seeming to underline the ephemeral nature of their lives. Their fates: pain-filled and messy, ironic situations. But I know there is much more to their stories.

I am walking through a part of town that we have come to know now as a shrine. There are many stores open, but most are boarded up. At the barber shop, the door was half-opened and the man in the chair smiled at me… a welcome kindness on a chilly day. It warmed me up a bit to feel this cordial outreach. I was encouraged that this shop had remained open amidst such upheaval.

Julie K. Taylor | Light And Matter

Overall, the sense here is one of such sadness, remorse, and pain, yet I’m also quite aware of a feeling that the deep convictions that were spoken so loudly and boldly here will not fall on deaf ears. Hope is a necessity. I did sense that here on the perimeter, trying to edge its way in. Change happens in tangible and intangible ways. A sustaining transformation will require compromise and cooperation like never before. It may require a change within all of us… yes, all of us.  

A Year Has Passed

It has now been almost a year since the death of George Floyd. His death has sparked a worldwide appeal to end the enduring racism in American policing. Perhaps in the unraveling of the tension there is substantive and healing. We can hope so.

Once again I was compelled to visit 38th and Chicago. It was a peaceful morning, with people roaming about. Moving from the memorial covered in flowers and signs then shifting over to the site of where Mr. Floyd died, I saw two women resting on a bench in silence, wearing their COVID masks.

I walked over to the large memorial in the center of the intersection and spotted a gent planting flowers. It was a minute later that he approached me. “Don’t you look nice today” he said. I then said “Thank you, and I must say you look nice too”.

Julie K. Taylor

We started visiting. I asked him “Why are you planting flowers?” He said “Because I want to bring joy, faith and love to a hurting world” “There is too much pain here. I want to help,” J. said. “I like your sweater”, he said. “Did you knit that? … You have a great day Julie … Such a pleasure to meet you Julie” Thanks Mr. J., You indeed brighten this world, I thought. A small encounter with a huge impact.

I asked him “Why are you planting flowers?” He said “Because I want to bring joy, faith and love to a hurting world. There is too much pain here. I want to help.”

Perhaps that is a partial remedy in a most elementary way. Find the smallest of good and expand it. It will take time, tenacity and a deep hunger to bring about a common denominator that wills change. There is a vastness to the sea of humanity out there. It becomes so blurred, and hard to define. Yet that mass is made up of individual worth, pain, and beauty. A myriad of experiences, and liberties that remind us that it is not one dominating group that should hold the key to betterment and rest. It belongs to all.

Julie K. Taylor
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Rebecca Maddick

Beautifully written, powerful photography.

T. Schwantz

We all need a little changing… I agree. The photographs and words are moving and articulated with precise passion. I am moved and accelerated to change even if it is small and unnoticeable…I’ll notice. Thank you Julie for the image of “a change in us all” that I think we could all learn from. Well done!

Holli

The photography of Julie Taylor had a profound effect on me, as she took me on a journey to the spot where George Floyd died, and others were harmed. 

Her pictorial story, as she returned to that site, evoked strong emotions. While I felt renewed outrage and sadness, also, seeing that outpouring of memorials, thoughts, and artwork of the victims reminded me that they will not be forgotten. We can never forget. Positive change can only occur when we remember, and work towards justice and equality for all. Thank you, Julie, for taking us back to that spot, that will hopefully inspire true change in our society. 

Joosh

This is an article that tells the story that hasn’t concluded and one for which has brought much strain to many. Emotions felt and demonstrated though out then and now.

Marj

Julie, thank you so much for returning the memorial for me. I live nearby and have been unable to go there. It’s still too painful. Your photos and words give me strength. You have captured the aftermath of that day, Memorial Day, fitting for this intersection that remains, a place we will always remember. Thank you for your beautiful perspective.

Jenni

This is an excellent reminder that, even as things have quieted, there is still such hard work to do. Necessary work for all of us to do. A start to maybe an actual peace in humanity. Difficult is the road ahead, not hopeless, beautifully displayed in these photos.

Jean

Your descriptive writing portrays for the reader a place and time, eliciting an emotional involvement by the reader. I felt I walked with you on your journey – a physical place I have not been. Your photos provide additional images to your eloquent words. You share your perspective as to what you saw and are seeing inviting the reader along for the journey to form their own opinion and thoughts.
Thank you for sharing your gift.

Karen Walter

Julie I have read, re-read, and reviewed your photos. Thankyou for taking me on this journey with you. You too carried the voice of the past forward. You reminded all of us to do better. To not let this tortured part of history to keep repeating itself. Thanks for encouraging all of us to be the change.

Catherine Hull

Julie, Your talent in capturing emotion and beauty in a dark time. Thank you for keeping these important images in the forefront so we may never forget.

Anna

Julie,, this article is very heartfelt., and the photographs capture so many feelings and I feel You are a light that shines onto others and can start a much needed change on respect and peace. It take one light that can be passed on until we all see that light and keep passing it on to others..
Thanks for waking up so many eyes .
I pray for continue Peace and Healing and Educating So We Can Unite and Work Together…
Thanks Again For Your Wonderful Work and Dedication!!!!

Emily B

The author/photographer has beautifully captured her experience within this place and moment, and has transported us as readers and viewers into that experience with her. Through her words and photos, we, too, get to walk through this location and bear witness to the pain, frustration, anger, sadness, and yes, hope that continues to exist within this community – as it does throughout many communities across our nation. These events did not take place in a vacuum and I appreciate the openness in which the artist explores – and encourages us to explore – these more difficult topics of race, community, and the great need for all of us to engage in self introspection in regards to our roles, responses, and responsibilities to these larger themes.

John

Great job on this, Julie, both with the initial project as well as your recent return – top-notch photography and heartfelt writing about the difficult and troubling issue of confronting racial inequality. We all have a lot of work to do. Please know that you are an inspiration to all who seek justice. And thank you for your courage and compassion.

Julie Hodge

Beautiful and poignant. Julie you are so talented in everything you do. Loved the article and the photography is stunning

Mary Jo

Beautifully written and I love the pictures. So many of your words caught my attention and made me think. In my mind these words truly hit home, “Hope is a necessity” “transformation will require compromise and cooperation like never before!” “It may require a change within all of us, yes all of us!”
Well written and thought provoking! Thank you!

Terry Brennan

Beautifully written and illustrated, Julie. I hope and pray that in our lifetime positive change will come to our world. Take care!

Gloria

Julie, what a wonderful story.I love the fact that u went back to see what the area was like. The remnants left behind are a testimonial to the fact that the people were cared for. May the change begin with the smile that u were given with the words u have it together along with the beautiful poignant pictures u have posted. Thank u for the touching summation of a wrong that has happened to many times

Susan Schierts

Your first examination of this corner compelled me to see it anew through your black and white compositions. It has, for me, the sacredness you reveal. The clarity in your observations in this second visit and article, become more apparent as your words shift and the light and shadows of the November day reveal.

Mark R.

Well written with powerful photos Julie. A good reminder that our problems stem from our imperfect judgement of others. Way too much of that going on from all sides these days. There is only one perfect judge and we all need to turn back to Him rather than turning on each other. Thanks again for your reminder of how we should all treat and respect each other as children of the same loving Father.

Chris S

Beautiful images and powerful words! Thank you for sharing these with us Julie and bringing to light the suffering that continues to reverberate through our city.

Zackery B

A poignant and hopeful message for a city and country ravished by bigotry. Thank you for your words and your images Julie. They are beautiful and capture the compassion, grace, respect, and love you so clearly have for people.

Carol Taylor

I’ve read the article several times and get the same emotion which is mainly anger and sadness that such an event took place and the injustice I feel over the racial inequality. It is so necessary to have this event and the aftermath documented so that we learn and remember. Julie, who is full of compassion for all people has the talent to do so with her descriptive and clear account as well as the excellent photography talent.

Lee storbakken

I don’t think laws or bombs or guns fire or bricks or anything will help except the poet. If poets like you can’t change Hearts then no one can

George Willmarth

Thank you for revisiting the site and providing us with emotive words and images. I choked up a bit. Perhaps being emotive is the purpose of art and you’ve fulfilled that for me. I finished with the sad wondering of how incredibly large something might have to be for murals of all the victims.

Julie Elliott

Julie, your God given gift to capture the feeling through your words and photographs are truly a blessing. Thank you for sharing your gift. Julie

Barb & Steve

Julie, what a wonderful article. Shows how much work we still need to do here in MN as well as the whole USA. Wonderful pictures and intimate story telling. You bring the readers into the story and let us see your heart through your eyes, beautiful.

Bob

Cool

B. Teacherson

Another excellent piece, Julie. I love how you marry your words and images without pretention or over explanation, allowing yourself to be a vessel to pass along the feelings of the site and the artists you have captured and amplified with these photos. This is also an excellent reminder that we must not allow ourselves to forget or move on, for there are many who do not have that luxury.

MEM

The story through pictures is powerful and the story through your words is sorrowful but hopeful. Thank you, Julie for reminding us.

Jessie

Your work always seems to capture both the pain and beauty so well. Thank you for bringing light to this important piece of history. Much love!

Katie N

It is so important to keep this event, and these images, in the forefront of our lives. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, Julie.

Rdaly

Thank you for keeping this story and the injustice that is reveals at the forefront of our minds. Let’s not sweep it away just because the crowds have dispersed and time has moved on. Thank you, Julie, for once again capturing this sacred area with respect, contemplation, and grace.

Teransc Phillip

I really love the black and white photos! Amazing!

James Bischoff

Very kind and considerate, thoughtful and understanding, empathetic and empowering words that describe so much that most of us do not know and can not experience. All of the photos are artistic, yet, very humanistic and realistic, powerful and moving. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings and photoart with all of us who can’t be there in person. Sincerely Jim Bischoff, MD

Alex Roberts

This line grabbed me, “The statements were an out-pouring of angst resulting from centuries of no one listening or responding appropriately.” In your closing statements (paraphrased) you mentioned that we all have to acknowledge that the ignorance (not listening/responding appropriately) has got to change. I could not agree more. I loved the images you shot and selected for your piece. The monochrome images carried the somber feel of that hallowed ground. Nice job, Julie.

Nancy Soucier

Thank you for helping us revisit this sacred space through your photos and words, Julie. I love how you zoom in on the details of the site, honoring the humanity behind each each sign and picture on display. Well done, Julie.

Brianna

I loved reading every word. The pictures put a face to what you bring to life. Thank you for sharing! So humbling and inspiring. I hope to visit here one day.

Jen M

I always love to see your work Julie, it’s so powerful. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

Barb

Thank you for sharing this beautifully written article, Julie. The photos are so incredibly powerful.

Carol

Thank you, Julie, for sharing the resilience of the community that has been through so much. May hope & justice persevere so the beauty of each individual is noticed & stereotypes are washed away.

Rev. Dr. Wendy Abrahamson

Julie’s words and photographs capture holy ground. It is indeed holy ground where breath was snatched from George Floyd. It is holy ground within an alley where people have given voice to their feelings. It is indeed holy ground that calls us to search our hearts and seek justice. It is a holy moment calling us to see that each of us are created in the image of God, each of us beloved. Thank you, Julie for calling us to holy ground, holy hearts and to live holy lives.

Lori

Julie has once again captured the essence of place through her photos and words; they are a reminder for all of us to continue to work for justice and to hold on to hope.

Nancy

Julie’s words bring the pictures to reality. The quiet, compassionate reflections of what she was photographing, bring the experience full circle.

Debra Ann Stuewe

Thank you Julie, for sharing your beautiful words and photos. It shows how deeply you care not only in your writings/pictures, but in the way your emotions beckon you to return to this place. Through your art, you bring others along with you. Matthew 25:35-40.

Monique DeMarco

Julie, beautiful article with even more beautiful photographs. Amazing how so many places are still boarded up. It takes time. To rebuild, to heal. All in due course.
But with so many good people and kindness, not in the least represented by yourself, it will all fsll into place.

Bridget Mueller

Julie has once again returned to the site where George Floyd died and gave us her impressions. Six months have passed and the scenery is a visual sign for all that although time does pass, the scars will always remain. Julie was able to show us some of the pain and healing that has happened and still exists. I enjoyed her article with the heartfelt words and photography. It is a good read for all.

Kathie

Thank you for this article..The photos bring the words to life and remind us of what happened in this place, reminding us there is much to be done to bring healing.

Phil

Thank you; beautifully written. A reminder that there is still a long way to go

MeganB

I briefly lived close to this corner, and I think of it all the time. It’s heartening and important to see the witness that continues to be born here. Of what was done, what needs to be done. What we need to do.

kelly M McGinnis

Beautiful article

Your compassion and empathy always comes out in your words and in your beautiful pictures
Mr. Floyd would be proud

Doubleg

Julie,
Absolutely beautiful photos and article. You really captured each moment, made me feel as if I were there. Thank you for revisiting and not forgetting.
“Love Abides Here” I will and will continue.
Thank you
Jiji

brittany

In each photo, but particularly in photo 1 of 12 I I’m struck by the use of shadow and light to highlight the different dimensions and depth of boards. It was subtle how my mind’s eye shifted from the mass of the photograph to the content, almost like physically being drawn in. Once again, absolutely stunning work Julie!

A. Schmaltz

Thank you for bearing witness to this. To the people, to the location and to us as a whole… Beautifully written.

K Terry

Great article Julie. Loved the photos and your observations and contrasts to your first visit in a very heartfelt way.

Tami Buschmann

Julie, Thank you for the heartfelt article and photographs. I have been unable to visit this area and appreciate your commentary. My hope is that we are now ready to change and bring equity and hope to all of our neighborhoods!❤

Tanecsha Jones

I am happy to have read this ,thank you very much for this Julie! I like that it was very vivid and descriptive of the whole scene, once again you have brought the city to dear Chaska and because I was not able to see the site myself I am now aware of how it looks and feels to be down there this is very touching and beautiful thank you

Rose

Julie your article is poignant and you have captured the essence of our city.The photos of these truths are wonderful. Thank you and the other artists for this truth.

Paula

Julie, you’ve captured the somber & sobering truth in our city, our world, in the heart of all mankind in your incredible images. Every soul is precious, every soul has potential, every soul has purpose
Hope for transformation in every human heart is the is the answer

Kathy Perschmann

This was a beautifully written, moving article- and the photos are stunning.
Thank you!

Aethan Hart

I found this article very insightful and informative. The photos really capture the isolation of the area that was once full of people. I really liked the walking tour to gather impressions. I was a news photographer for 43 years and the best content could often be acquired after the crowds left and the noise lessened.
.

Patti Christensen

Oh thank you so much for your words and photos that reflect what has happened here and how it changed the community and the world. May his memory be a blessing in our struggle for justice.