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“Vigil Keepers” continue to light candles at and clean Gainesville George Floyd Memorial

TV20's Landon Harrar shows us why a dedicated group of people keep the memorial clean.
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5:59 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Almost every night if you drive past the intersection of 13th street and University, you’ll see candles lit as a vigil for George Floyd.

After Floyd’s death, a vigil was set up at one of the well-known entrances to the University of Florida, but after it ended one man named Jared, who didn’t wish to reveal his last name, had a calling to keep coming back.

“At first I came by for a very selfish reason,” he said. “I wanted a good photo op and that was it. But something else in me just said it’s not good to keep this unlit.”

Now he comes back almost every night to replace old candles and light new ones with a few others who have joined the cause.

“We’re people that want simple things based commons sense we just want to be equal. We all know the way George Floyd went out, no matter what he did it was a savage act and it needs to be corrected properly,” Jared explained. “I made a personal vow to myself that this vigil will stay up until all the riots up North end and that’s my goal.”

Amanda Lewis saw Jared lighting the candles by himself in the rain and pulled over to help and has been doing so ever since.

“I think this specifically is a way that people can drive by and keep seeing it out here,” said Lewis. “If they drive by at night and see it’s still lit they know someone is still paying attention to what’s going on.”

Sources tell TV20, “the vigil keepers, as they call themselves, put a white covering over the University of Florida’s seal as a compromise with the university, so they wouldn’t get it dirty. That way the university won’t remove the memorial to clean it.”

Lewis says they do their best to keep the memorial looking tidy, although they have had to deal with people breaking the glass candles as well the weather causing havoc. They’ve started a Gofundme in attempts to make it look nicer and keep making sure it’s lit every night.

“So we can get some other supplies to make it look nicer,” Lewis explained. “Personally I think the paper underneath looks a bit tacky but this what we’re doing right now so we can keep it going.”

The vigil keepers say they’ve had many bring their own candles and flowers - which they encourage.

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