GEORGE FLOYD was buried on Tuesday in his home city, Houston, Texas, alongside the mother he cried out for in his dying moments, after an emotional service attended by 500 people but broadcast around the world.
The death of Mr Floyd two weeks ago at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked outrage and protests worldwide about racial injustice and police brutality (News, 5 June).
A civil-rights activist, the Revd Al Sharpton, gave the eulogy in the four-hour service, in which he promised that, even when the world’s attention had drifted away, the movement would continue.
“When the TV trucks have gone, we will still be here. We are here for the long haul. As we lay you to rest today, the movement won’t rest till we have justice. Your family is going to miss you, George, but the nation is going to remember your name. Until America comes to terms with what it is and what it has done, we will not be able to heal.”
Mr Sharpton described the impact that Mr Floyd’s death was having on the world, seeing “grandchildren of slave masters pulling down the statues of slave masters” in Bristol, where the statue of the slave trader Edward Colson was pulled down and thrown in the city’s river on Sunday.
He suggested that, with Mr Floyd, God had taken the “rejected stone and made him the cornerstone of the movement that is going to change the whole wide world”.
Family members lined up to pay tearful tributes at the service in the Fountains of Praise Church.
A niece of Mr Floyd’s, Brooke Williams, said: “Someone said, ‘Make America Great Again.’ But when has America been great? Those four officers were literally on him for nine minutes. This is not just murder, but a hate crime.”
A veteran activist, the Revd Bill Lowson, who worked with Martin Luther King, also spoke out at the service, calling for a “clear out of the White House”.
The Democrats’ Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, who met the family privately the day before the funeral, recorded a video message that was played to the congregation. He said: “Today, now is the time, the purpose, the season to listen and heal. Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”
The Pastor of South Main Baptist Church, Steve Wells, spoke as a white man in a message to “white Christians”.
“We are better than we used to be, but we are not as good as we ought to be, and that is not good enough. We have to take up the world of racial justice,” he said.
After the service, thousands lined the route to the cemetery to see Mr Floyd’s coffin for the last time before it was interred in a private ceremony.
Mr Floyd died on 25 May, after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for eight minutes 46 seconds, impervious to the man’s pleas that he could not breathe. Mr Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter; three other arresting officers are charged with aiding and abetting murder. All have been dismissed from the police.
On Monday, a judge set bail for Mr Chauvin at $1.25 million. Prosecutors cited the “severity of the charges” and public outrage as the reason for increasing his bail from $1 million.