George Floyd's Family Says Goodbye at Houston Funeral Before Burial Alongside His Mother
George Floyd will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Pearland, Tx., alongside his deceased mother, to whom he called out as he died
George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police two weeks ago sparked an ongoing international protest and political movement for reforms to correct racial inequities in policing, was mourned at his funeral today before being buried alongside the mother to whom he called out as he died.
Attendance inside Houston's 2,000-seat Fountain of Praise church for the two-hour funeral had been limited to about 500 invited family and guests -- a number that was quickly exceeded -- in an effort to accommodate social distancing requirements in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But a large crowd remained outside, a day after thousands had passed through the sanctuary for a six-hour public viewing of Floyd in his open gold casket.
The service, promoted by the family as a home-going "grand finale," was the final stop on a tour that included a memorial service Thursday in Minneapolis, where Floyd was living when he was killed; a second memorial service Saturday in Raeford, N.C., near where Floyd was born; and the viewing Monday in Houston, where he spent most of his life.
"Because of you, we have gained comfort and strength," Floyd's family wrote in a notecard handed out to those who attended the public viewing. "We would like for each of you to know that George is now one of God's beautiful angels and will FOREVER breathe in our hearts."
"I can't breathe" were among the last words spoken by Floyd, 46, when he died on May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police, who arrived to detain him over the report that he had allegedly spent a counterfeit $20 bill.
The organic protests that arose the next day, and which have grown across the country each day since, have yielded an extraordinarily swift response.
In Minneapolis, the city council voted to dismantle the city's police department and vowed to create a "new model of public safety." In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would cut up to $150 million in increased spending sought for his local law enforcement agency, as calls to "defund police" and direct those additional requested dollars elsewhere took hold, reports the Los Angeles Times. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a "Say Their Name" reform agenda that includes barring chokeholds and making police disciplinary records transparent.
In Washington, D.C., where protesters amassed for days in front of the White House, lawmakers led by the Congressional Black Caucus advanced legislation to counter racial injustice and create a national database for acts of police misconduct, reports Reuters.
Floyd's death, captured on video as police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds despite Floyd's protests of "I can't breathe," has sent tens of thousands of people of all races into the streets across America calling for justice.
Chauvin, 44, and three other officers present at the time of Floyd's death were fired the next day. Three days after that, the local prosecutor charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The charge against Chauvin later was upgraded to the more severe second-degree murder. The three other officers — Thomas Lane, 37; Tou Thao, 34; and J. Alexander Kueng, 26 — were arrested on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter.
Chauvin is being held on a $1.25 million bail. The other three men are jailed on $1 million bail. None has entered a plea.
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Floyd's family released a statement on social media after the new charges were announced, saying it was a "bittersweet moment" for them but they were "gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest."
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the charges against the four officers and credited eyewitness statements and the widely-seen bystander video that captured Chauvin with his knee planted on the side of Floyd's neck.
Minnesota officials also filed a civil rights charge against Chauvin, and promised further investigations into the department's practices.
Additional footage of the arrest shows Lane and Thao kneeling on the small of Floyd's back and his legs.
The autopsy report released by the Hennepin County medical examiner labeled Floyd's manner of death as "homicide," and said the cause was cardiopulmonary arrest compounded by the officers' restraint and neck compression.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden met privately with members of Floyd's family on Monday and recorded a video that was shown at the funeral. Biden and President Donald Trump each previously spoke with members of the family by phone, with Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd taking issue with what he portrayed as Trump's dismissive manner.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
•Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
•ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
•National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.