The horse-drawn carriage carrying the casket containing the body of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, travels to Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in Pearland. Picture: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
The horse-drawn carriage carrying the casket containing the body of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, travels to Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in Pearland. Picture: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

LOOK: George Floyd hailed as 'cornerstone of a movement' at funeral

By By Jennifer Hiller And Gary McWilliams Time of article published Jun 10, 2020

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Houston - George Floyd, a black man whose

death under the knee of a white police officer roused worldwide

protests against racial injustice, was memorialised at his

funeral on Tuesday as "an ordinary brother" transformed by fate

into the "cornerstone of a movement."

During a four-hour service broadcast live on every major

US television network from a church in Floyd's boyhood home of

Houston, family members, clergy and politicians exhorted

Americans to turn grief and outrage at his death into a moment

of reckoning for the nation.

Roxie Washington holds Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd as they attend his funeral service at The Fountain of Praise in Houston. Picture: David J Phillip/Pool via Reuters

The funeral followed two weeks of protests ignited by

graphic video footage of Floyd, 46, handcuffed and lying face

down on a Minneapolis street while an officer kneels into the

back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. The video shows Floyd

gasping for air as he cries out, "Mama," and groans, "Please, I

can't breathe," before falling silent and still.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with

second-degree murder and three other officers with aiding and

abetting Floyd's May 25 death. All were dismissed from the

department a day after the incident.

Picture: David J. Phillip/AP

Floyd's dying words have become a rallying cry for tens of

thousands of protesters around the globe who have since taken to

the streets, undaunted by the coronavirus pandemic, demanding

justice for Floyd and an end to mistreatment of minorities by

US law enforcement.

"I can breathe. And as long as I'm breathing, justice will

be served," Floyd's niece Brooklyn Williams declared in a eulogy

that drew applause from mourners inside the Fountain of Praise

Church in Houston. "This is not just a murder but a hate crime."

Family and guests attend the funeral service for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. Picture: David J. Phillip/AP

Williams was one of several relatives and friends, most

dressed all in white, who addressed the service, remembering

Floyd as a loving, larger-than-life personality. The memorial

was punctuated by gospel music and a video montage of shared

memories of the man affectionately known as "Big Floyd."

His younger brother, Terrence Floyd, spoke about awakening

in the middle of the night in recent days traumatiSed by the

memory of seeing his older sibling calling out for their mother

as he lay dying.

LaTonya Floyd speaks during the funeral service for her brother George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. Picture: David J. Phillip/AP

His older brother, Philonise, sobbing in grief, told

mourners, "George was my personal superman."

Taking the stage to deliver the main eulogy, civil rights

activist the Rev. Al Sharpton called Floyd "an ordinary brother"

who grew up in a Houston housing project but left behind a

legacy of greatness despite rejections in jobs and sports that

prevented him from achieving all that he once aspired to become.

"God took the rejected stone and made him the cornerstone of

a movement that is going to change the whole wide world,"

Sharpton said, invoking a biblical parable from the New

Testament.

Pallbearers recess out of the church with the casket following the funeral for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. Picture: Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP

He added that the Floyd family would lead a march on

Washington being organised for August 28 to mark the 57th

anniversary of the 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech given from the

steps of the Lincoln Memorial by civil rights leader Martin

Luther King Jr, assassinated in 1968.

About 2 500 people attended the funeral, which followed

memorial services last week in Minneapolis, where Floyd made his

home after leaving Houston, and Raeford, the North Carolina town

where he was born. More than 6 000 people filed past Floyd's

open casket on Monday as he lay in repose inside the church.

"This is a home-going celebration," the Reverend Mia Wright,

co-pastor of the church, told mourners. Banners featured pop

art illustrations of Floyd wearing a baseball cap with a halo

above it.

George Floyd's funeral procession arrives at Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Pearland, Texas. Picture: Eric Gay/AP

Two columns of uniformed Houston police officers saluted the

golden casket as it was wheeled from the hearse into the church

before the service. A horse-drawn carriage later bore the coffin

on its last mile to the cemetery in Pearland, Texas, where Floyd

was buried in a private grave-side ceremony.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic

presidential candidate in the November 3 election, addressed the

funeral service via a video recording, lamenting that "too many

black Americans wake up knowing that they could lose their life

in the course of just living their life.”

“We must not turn away. We cannot leave this moment thinking

we can once again turn away from racism,” he said.

George Floyd's casket is moved into a hearse after his funeral service. Picture: David J. Phillip/AP

Two voter registration tables were set up outside the

church.

Among those in attendance were loved ones of several other

black men killed by white police or white civilians.

The mother of Eric Garner, the New York man who died in a

police chokehold in 2014, was present, as was the family of

Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Georgia man who was shot and killed

in February while jogging. Three white men were charged in his

death.

Fallout from Floyd's death, and reaction to a spate of arson

and looting that accompanied some of the otherwise mostly

peaceful protests, also plunged President Donald Trump into one

of the biggest crises of his tenure.

A Republican, Trump repeatedly threatened to order the

military onto the streets to quell protests, focusing on

restoring order while saying little about the US racial wounds

at the root of the upheavals.

Reuters

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