Pallbearers bring the coffin into The Fountain of Praise church in Houston for the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)
Pallbearers bring the coffin into The Fountain of Praise church in Houston for the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)

Two weeks after his death, George Floyd's life celebrated at Houston funeral

By Jennifer Hiller And Gary McWilliams Time of article published Jun 9, 2020

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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

of Houston.

"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

from racism.”

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."

MOURNING FAMILIES

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

set up.

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

and thrive.”

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.

Reuters

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