HOUSTON - George Floyd, the African
American whose death in police custody roused worldwide protests
against racism, was extolled at his funeral by religious and
political leaders, family and friends on Tuesday in his hometown
"This is a home-going celebration," Reverend Mia Wright,
co-pastor at the Fountain of Praise Church, told mourners.
Banners featured pop art illustrations of Floyd wearing a
baseball cap with a halo above it.
American flags lined the streets outside the church. Flowers
and bouquets were placed around a photograph of Floyd.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic
presidential candidate, spoke via a video recording.
"Why in this nation do too many black Americans wake up
knowing that they could lose their life in the course of just
living their life?” Biden said. “We must not turn away. We
cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away
After the service, a funeral procession was due to travel
about 15 miles (24 km) to Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery in
Pearland, Texas. His body was to travel in a horse-drawn
carriage for burial alongside his mother.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who grew up in the
Texas city, died on May 25 after a white police officer in
Minneapolis pinned him with a knee to the neck for nearly nine
minutes. A bystander's video captured the incident in
excruciating detail, including his saying "I can't breathe" and
crying out for his mother.
"It was the worst thing I ever could have imagined, watching
him going from speaking and breathing to turning blue," said
Godfrey Johnson, 45, as he arrived at the church. Johnson, who
wore an "I can't breathe" T-shirt, attended Floyd's high school
and played football with him.
About 500 people were invited to the funeral, which followed
memorial services last week in Minneapolis and Raeford, the
North Carolina town where Floyd was born.
Advised to guard against the coronavirus pandemic by wearing
masks over their mouths and noses, some mourners and onlookers
wore ones that said, "I can't breathe."
Family members of other black men killed in confrontations
with white men attended.
The mother of Eric Garner, the New York man who died in a
police chokehold, was at the church 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.
Outside the church in hot, humid, 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32
degrees Celsius) temperature, two voter registration tables were
Floyd's death ignited a wave of protests across the United
States and cities in other countries against racism and the
systematic mistreatment of black people, reinvigorating the
Black Lives Matter movement.
The case also thrust the administration of President Donald
Trump into a political crisis. Trump repeatedly threatened to
order the military on to the streets to quell protests, which
have mostly been peaceful.
As activists and some politicians across the country have
called for reducing police budgets and redirecting the money,
Trump resisted calls to slash funding, saying 99% of police were
"great, great people".
Derek Chauvin, 44, the policeman who knelt on Floyd's neck
and is charged with second-degree murder, made his first court
appearance in Minneapolis by video link on Monday. A judge
ordered his bail raised from $1 million to $1.25 million.
Chauvin's co-defendants, three fellow officers, are accused
of aiding and abetting Floyd's murder.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation asking
Minnesotans to spend 8 minutes and 46 seconds in silence to mark
the start of the funeral.
“The world watched in horror as George Floyd’s humanity was
taken away from him,” the proclamation said. “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
The New York Stock Exchange observed 8 minutes 46 seconds of
silence for the start of the funeral, the length of time Floyd
was pinned down.