An image of George Floyd is projected on a screen in front of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Tuesday July 28, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Change.org and the George Floyd Foundation officially launched "A Monumental Change: The George Floyd Hologram Memorial Project" in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
An image of George Floyd is projected on a screen in front of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Tuesday July 28, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Change.org and the George Floyd Foundation officially launched "A Monumental Change: The George Floyd Hologram Memorial Project" in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Floyd’s family was at the statue to witness the unveiling of the hologram

George Floyd’s family was joined by hundreds of Virginians on Tuesday night to witness the unveiling of a hologram of their lost loved one’s face projected over the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee in Monument Ave, now known to many Richmonders as Marcus David Peters Circle.

Change.org teamed up with the George Floyd Foundation to travel across the country to project the hologram across various Confederate monuments, with Virginia’s capital being their first stop. 

“Since the death of my brother George, his face has been seen all over the world,” said Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. “Now by partnering with Change.org, the hologram will allow my brother’s face to be seen as a symbol for change in places where change is needed most.”

On May 25, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while the man begged for his life. After the video of his death went viral, protests were sparked nationwide, including Virginia. 

At the event, Floyd’s family thanked the Richmond demonstrators for protesting in his brother’s honor. 

“My brother George Floyd … he loves unity, he loves peace, he’d love what y’all are doing,” Rodney Floyd said to the crowd. “We love what y’all are doing.”

Organizers pose with George Floyd’s family for a photo ahead of the event (Arianna Coghill for Dogwood)

Throughout the night, several speakers took the time to talk about the importance of projecting images that reflect the values and struggles of people today, which the Confederate monuments don’t represent. 

According to the Washington Post, the creators of the holographic memorial wanted to place it in a location that had a deep meaning for the cause of fighting racial injustice, agreeing that the largest statue in the former capital of the Confederacy was the perfect spot. 

“All men are created equally, that they’re endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Ben Crumpf, George Floyd family’s attorney.  “America, we know you can quote it. The question the George Floyd Foundation is asking is ‘do you believe it?’ That’s why it’s important for us to be here in Richmond, VA today.” 

The Confederate statues’ removal, especially the Lee memorial, has been a point of civil contention for years in the commonwealth. The removal of the Lee statue has recently been halted and is still being debated in court. 

READ MORE: 11 Confederate Monuments are Coming Down in Richmond. Here’s What You Need to Know

Demonstrators, artists, musicians, and poets all came together, not only to memorialize George Floyd, but to call for justice for the many other Black individuals who’ve lost their lives at the hands of police.

An interpretive dancer performs on the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (Arianna Coghill for Dogwood)

Surrounding the Lee statue were several memorials to other victims of police violence, including Marcus David Peters, a 24-year-old teacher who was shot and killed by a Richmond police officer in 2018 while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Peters’ sister, Princess Blanding, standing alongside other organizers at the event, called for the reopening of her brother’s case. 

“My brother needed help, not death,” said Blanding, who wants her brother to get justice. The city’s Commonwealth Attorney, Colette McEachin, said she’s going to review the Peters case but is prioritizing other cases stemming from recent protests. 

On Monday, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to create the “Marcus Alert” program, which aims to improve law enforcement’s response to mental health related calls.