People chant, “Say his name: George Floyd.” They turn his image into posters and Instagram posts. We watch that horrifying video of his death over and over, but George Floyd’s family wants us to see him as more than just a dead man or a symbol. When Roxie Washington and Gianna, her daughter with Floyd, stood in front of reporters on Tuesday evening, they wanted to remind the world that he was also a father and a partner.
“I don’t have a lot to say because I can’t get my words together right now, but I wanted everybody to know that this is what those officers took,” Washington said in the conference. “At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grown up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there’s a problem and she needs a dad, she does not have that anymore.”
Six-year-old Gianna quietly stood and stared at the press as her tearful mother embraced her through the short statement. Floyd is also survived by a 22-year-old daughter and 27-year-old son from previous relationships.
“I’m here for my baby and I’m here for George because I want justice for him,” Washington said. “I want justice for him because he was good no matter what anybody thinks. This is the proof that he was a good man.”
Washington was there represented by Atlanta-based attorneys Justin Miller and Chris Stewart.
“The image that most of us have of George Floyd is the horrible video that we’ve seen,” Stewart said. “But what we really wanted the world to see is the beauty of their child. The beauty of Gianna who is going to be taller than me soon. The beauty of Roxie who is holding up strong throughout this. … [His death] affects people’s actual lives and their futures. A father was taken. A brother and sister lost another brother.”
Washington and her daughter stayed behind in Houston when Floyd moved to Minnesota in 2014 to get a job as a truck driver, but Washington said he continued to provide for her.
“He was so happy to have her,” Washington said when a reporter asked her for her memory of Floyd as a father. “He slept the whole time that I went through labor, but when he heard her cry, he got up. He woke up, and I still have a picture of him waking up and getting his baby. He loved her. He loved her so much.”
Retired NBA player and friend of Floyd’s Stephen Jackson also shared a powerful video of little Gianna on his shoulders. In the clip, Gianna looks around her and exclaims, smiling, “Daddy changed the world!”
“That’s right GiGi ‘Daddy changed the world’,” Jackson captioned the post, with tearful emojis. “George Floyd the name of change.”
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Roxie described how Gianna had asked her why she was hearing her dad’s name in the news.
“She wanted to know how he died,” Washington said. “And the only thing that I could tell her is that he couldn’t breathe.”
Also at the press conference, Jackson made his own statement about this loss.
“You’re in here with cameras for a reason; so you can have proof of what happened today,” Jackson told the press. “When you post that footage on your news station, you expect people to believe what you’re posting and what you video is real, right? … Why is it not that simple when somebody is videoed getting murdered? Why do we have to see her pain? Why do we have to see a daughter getting raised without her father?”
But Jackson then made Washington a promise.
“It’s a lot of stuff you said that he’s going to miss that I’m going to be there for,” he said. “I’m going to walk her down the aisle. I’m going to be here to wipe her tears. I’m going to be here for you and Gigi.”
For Gianna and all the other girls out there, these children’s books starring girls of color are bright lights in a dark world.