George Floyd’s brother rallies voters on Election Day

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Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, waits to speak at a Get Out the Vote Rally outside the Brooklyn Museum, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – The murmurs spread quickly among the poll workers late Tuesday morning at a Brooklyn neighborhood station: George Floyd’s brother was present.

A few came up to Terrence Floyd, whose brother George died at the hands of Minneapolis police, sparking protests for racial justice across the nation. “Keep the fight going,” one Black woman urged. Others asked to take their photos with Terrence.

Since the death of his older brother on May 25, Terrence has been thrust into a spotlight he did not seek. A 42-year-old school bus driver in New York, Terrence is normally a quiet man, deeply attached to his three children. But now, he feels under constant pressure to relay his brother’s voice — especially on this Election Day, when, as he sees it, race and racial justice are on the ballot.

“Ever since then, I’ve felt like he was talking to me,” he says of George’s death. “He was saying, ‘Little bro, just speak for me. Walk for me. Love for me. Get these people to understand what happened to me can happen to anybody.'"

On Tuesday, Terrence’s black hoodie and face mask included the words “I can’t breathe,” “Justice for George,” and “8:46,” the number of minutes and seconds authorities initially said a white officer held a knee to his brother’s neck until he became unresponsive.

After famously urging calm as anger spilled onto the streets over his brother’s death, Terrence planned to spend Election Day following up on a less-noticed part of his emotional plea to protesters: please vote.

The names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks, all killed by police or vigilantes, re-energized the Black Lives Matter movement this year and put race and justice at the center of the election. As voting wraps up coast to coast, their loved ones awaited signs that their public grief and loss of anonymity weren’t in vain.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has promised racial justice and reforms, while President Donald Trump has stuck to a stern “law and order” rhetoric. After a summer of protests, about half of voters call racism a “very serious” problem in U.S. society, AP Votecast polling found. But compared with the pandemic and the economy, relatively few voters – about one in 10 – deemed racism or law enforcement the country’s top issue, the polling found.