ITHACA, N.Y.—A George Floyd memorial has been constructed outside of DeWitt Park, drawing attention to the fact that May 25 is the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police.
Floyd’s killing set off a wave of nationwide protests against racist police brutality which, in Ithaca, morphed into months of weekly rallies held on the Commons calling for the defunding of the Ithaca Police Department and other related law enforcement reforms. Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in April 2021.
The memorial was primarily designed and created by Ithacan and Vietnam War veteran Louie DeBenedette, who is now a frequent attendee of racial justice and peace protests. It also includes remembrances for Shawn Greenwood, a Black man who was killed by Ithaca Police in 2010, deeming DeWitt Park as “Shawn Greenwood Park” in his honor. It is unclear how long the memorial will remain up.
DeBenedette, commonly known as “Lou,” has been a popular figure at the local rallies for social justice. During the height of the protests last spring and summer, he would often deliver brief but fiery speeches about the value of what the protesters were doing and their intentions.
DeBenedette has often talked about how after his service overseas in the armed forces, he became disillusioned with the thought of war and U.S. military interventionism.