George Floyd was killed on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes

By Ally Mauch
June 06, 2020 03:28 PM
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Mourners from across the country gathered in North Carolina to pay their respects to George Floyd, the unarmed 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes while three others stood idly by.

The memorial service and public viewing were held on Saturday at the Cape Fear Conference B Church in Raeford. Floyd was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and raised in the Third Ward of Houston, Texas.

Hundreds assembled to the conference center to honor Floyd, with some arriving before dawn to line up, according to The News & Observer.

Floyd’s body was escorted into the church in a gold casket early on Saturday as people lined up outside.

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Gregg Packer was among those who gathered in Raeford. The New York resident took an overnight train from Long Island to attend the memorial, arriving in Hoke County at 3 a.m. “I felt like I needed to come down here to support the protests and the family of George Floyd,” he told The News & Observer. “I hope that we can all get along with each other, that we can start treating each other the way we all should.”

In a statement posted to Facebook earlier this week, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin shared the details of the memorial and asked that there be no protesting.

“I’m asking on behalf of the Floyd family for those who plan on attending the viewing/memorial service to be respectful to the sensitivity of the family’s time of grief,” he wrote. “The memorial is about the life that Mr. George Floyd lived and this is a time to embrace the family with expressions of love and kindness.”

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A private viewing for Floyd’s family was held at 3 p.m. local time and broadcast on TV following the public service. During the intimate service, Floyd’s casket was brought down the aisle and those closest to him filled the church pews while a choir sang a hymn, "I Shall Wear a Crown."

A mural of Floyd — depicting him with a halo and angel wings — stood at the front of the room.

Most of those who attended were dressed in either all black or white. Some clapped along to the music or raised their fists in honor of Floyd.

Floyd died in police custody on May 25. His death has led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

The officer involved, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with second-degree murder, and the three other officers on the scene, also fired, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. None have entered a formal plea.

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.