MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands around the country are paying their respects to a Minneapolis man whose death sparked nationwide protests. George Floyd will be buried Tuesday following a funeral service in Houston, the city where he grew up.
Though it is a sweltering, hot day in Houston, WCCO’s Jeff Wagner says that the heat is hardly stopping people from paying their respects. This funeral marks the third of three separate services that were held in Floyd’s memory — the first two in Minneapolis and North Carolina last week.
The 46-year-old died two weeks ago while in police custody in Minneapolis. Now, he’s being honored in his hometown.
On Tuesday, another crowd of supporters showed up outside the church, thought he funeral itself will be a private service. Rev. Al Sharpton, who presided of the Minneapolis memorial service, is giving the eulogy for the Tuesday service as well. Renowned boxer Floyd Mayweather, who paid for these services, is also in attendance.
The ceremony began with family being led into the sanctuary, where Floyd’s casket was on display. Floyd’s relatives were visibly distraught as musical selections were performed by Donieta Webb-Thomas, Rhonda McLemore and the Houston Ensemble, who also assisted Pastor Kim Burrell with a performance of “God Will Take Care of You.”
A video montage was presented showcasing protests from around the world, while Dray Tate sang a version of “A Change is Gonna Come” and visual artist Ange Hillz painted a portrait of George Floyd. Thereafter, a list of resolutions honoring the memory of Floyd were read aloud by Ivy McGregor.
“We honor him today because, when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe,” Turner told the gathered mourners, before telling them that he was going to sign an executive order to ban chokeholds and also enact other law enforcement reforms in the city of Houston.
At that point, family members of Floyd’s were invited to share their memories and thoughts. Floyd’s niece at one point said, “Someone said, ‘make America great again.’ But when has America ever been great?”
Once the funeral is over, Floyd will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Pearland, Texas, next to his mother.
The funeral follows a six-hour public viewing held Monday. A long line of mourners paid their final respects to Floyd. Due to COVID-19, people were required to wear masks. The church’s capacity is 2,000, but only 500 were allowed inside due to restrictions.
Gov. Tim Walz ordered a moment of silence at 11 a.m. in honor of Floyd, lasting for 8 minutes, 46 seconds — the length former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is accused of having pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck during the fatal arrest attempt.
“The world watched in horror as George Floyd’s humanity was taken away from him,” Walz said. “We will not wake up one day and have the disease of systemic racism cured. We must do everything in our power to come together to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state so that every Minnesotan – Black, Indigenous, Brown, or White – can be safe and thrive.”
Those visiting say they’re not just honoring Floyd, but voicing their feelings about his death and issues with police by just being here.
“I was a part of some of the protests up in Minnesota. But I’m here primarily today because I want to pay my final respects,” Minnesotan Julian Johnson said. “I also kind of want to experience what’s going on, because this isn’t a small situation, a small story, this is huge. My hope is that the dynamics can be changed in terms of race relations in this country.”
The show of support overwhelmed Floyd’s brother Philonise. Joining him were family members of other African-American’s killed by police, including the mother of Eric Garner, and family of Ahmed Aubrey.
A million-dollar bail has been set for the former Minneapolis police officer accused of Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin appeared in court by video-link from the maxmium security prison in Oak Park Heights. Chauvin and the other three officers accused in the case are due back in court June 29.
Source: CBS Minnesota