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Following a public viewing on Monday in which over 6,000 mourners paid their respects, George Floyd was laid to rest at the Fountain of Praise church in his home town of Houston on Tuesday. Hundreds of mourners filled the pews for the 11 a.m. service, as his family, friends, and prominent guests celebrated the life of the 46-year-old and called for total reform of the police practices that led to an officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, killing him. Below are some of the most powerful moments from what the church’s co-pastor Mia Wright called “a home-going celebration of brother George Floyd’s life.”
Floyd’s family describes their loss and calls for change
Floyd’s younger brother Rodney delivered a vivid portrait of his sibling. “Third Ward, Cuney Homes, that’s where he was born at. But everybody is going to remember him around the world. He is going to change the world.”
“If he was told he would have to sacrifice his life to bring the world together, and knowing him, I know he would’ve did it,” Rodney Floyd added, while mentioning that he is still processing the loss. “It seems unreal because, you know, every day is like waiting on that phone call. I’m still calling his phone number.”
Philonise Floyd, who will testify before Congress on police accountability tomorrow, detailed their close childhood together in Houston’s Third Ward, sleeping, often, in the same bed. He described his older brother as a role model: “He was the first person who everybody looked up to in our neighborhood because he was the first one to get a scholarship to go and play basketball or football when he wanted to do.”
George Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams, introduced herself with a moving statement. “My name is Brooke Williams, George Floyd’s niece, and I can breathe. [As] long as I’m breathing, justice will be served.” Demanding reform for a “corrupt and broken system,” she called the death of her uncle “not just murder but a hate crime.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner announces Houston will ban police chokeholds
Flanked by portraits of George Floyd, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared at the service that he will sign an executive order banning chokeholds in the nation’s third-largest city. “In this city, we will require de-escalation,” he said. “In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot. In this city, you have a duty to intervene. In this city, we will require comprehensive reporting. In this city, you must exhaust all alternatives before shootings, and there will be other things in this executive order.” The declaration was met with a standing ovation.
Joe Biden offers his condolences by video
The former vice-president, who met privately with the family on Monday, spoke in a recorded message at the service. “Ladies and gentlemen — we cannot turn away,” Biden said. “We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul and from systemic abuse that still plagues American life.” Referring to a video in which his six-year-old daughter, Gianna, said her father “changed the world,” Biden added:
“Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there’s justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America. And then, as you said Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”
Al Sharpton condemns Trump
While the presumptive Democratic candidate did not mention the president, Reverend Al Sharpton addressed Trump’s response to the protests that have enveloped the nation. “You take rubber bullets and tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters, and then take a Bible and walk in front of a church, and use a church as a prop,” he said. Sharpton also emphasized the historic resonance of the past two weeks: “I have seen grandchildren of slave masters tear down slave master statues.”
Floyd was buried next to his mother
In the video of his homicide, George Floyd tells the officer digging a knee into the back of his neck “I can’t breathe,” a terrible echo of the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island from six summers ago. While pinned to the ground, he also called out for his mother. After the service, a hearse transported his golden casket to the suburb of Pearland, where Floyd was entombed next to his mother, known affectionately as Miss Cissy. For the final mile of the journey, the casket was transferred to a glass-sided, horse-drawn carriage on Pearland’s Cullen Boulevard, where mourners lined the route.