Hundreds of mourners came to say their final goodbyes to George Floyd at a private funeral held at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. The funeral celebrated the life of a man whose death sparked global protests on police violence and to end systemic racism in America.
Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights leader and president of the National Action Network, delivered the eulogy at Floyd’s funeral in Houston.
“Lives like George will not matter until somebody pays the cost for taking their lives,” Sharpton said, adding, “this was not just a tragedy. It was a crime.”
Sharpton said the police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck must be held accountable.
Floyd, 46, was born in Fayetteville, N.C. but grew up in Houston’s Third Ward. He died while in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day when a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes after being arrested for allegedly trying to spend a counterfeit $20 bill. His death was caught on video and led to national outrage that re-ignited the Black Lives Matter movement.
A Minnesota judge has set bail of $1.25 million for Derek Chauvin.
The other three officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood near the others, were not initially charged. Lane, 37, Kueng, 26, and Thao, 34, are now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Reverend Dr. Mary White of the Fountain of Praise church referenced Floyd’s cry for his mother as he struggled to breathe under the knee of the former Minneapolis police officer. She offered a prayer of comfort during the funeral.
When Floyd called for his mama, “all mamas began to wail,” said White.
“We thank you for the life of George Floyd, oh God. That at a moment he called out for his mama, we believe that the ears of mamas across this nation reared up. That the ears of mamas across this world heard him cry even though for one mama, all mamas began to wail. We began to wail for our children. We began to wail for our grandchildren. We wail for men across this world because of one mama’s call,” Rev. White of The Fountain of Praise church said Tuesday during the service.
Brooke Williams, George Floyd’s niece, delivered a powerful statement when speaking about her uncle’s life on Tuesday.
“As long as I’m breathing, justice will be served,” expressed Williams.
Williams said that none of the four officers on the scene when Floyd was killed showed “heart or soul.”
“That officer showed no remorse while watching my uncle’s soul leave his body. He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder. Why must the system be corrupt and broken?” she asked.
“No more hate crimes, please,” she said. “Someone said ‘Make America Great Again,” but when has America ever been great?”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed that June 9 would be “George Perry Floyd Day” in Houston.
“We honor him, not because he was perfect, we honor him today because when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe,” the mayor said while speaking in Floyd’s funeral.
As he delivered remarks at George Floyd’s funeral, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city’s attorney was drafting an executive order that he would sign that “will ban chokeholds and strangleholds” and enact other policy reforms.
“And what that order will say is that in this city, we will ban chokeholds and strangleholds. In this city, we will require de-escalation. 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 shooting. And there will be other things in this executive order,” Turner said.
President Trump, whose response to the protests over Floyd’s death, is widely criticized, did not attend the service.
Former vice president, Joe Biden, who traveled to Houston on Monday to privately meet Floyd’s family did not attend Tuesday’s funeral because he did not want his Secret Service detail to disrupt the service. Instead, Biden recorded a video that played during the funeral.
Biden, speaking via video at George Floyd’s funeral, said that right now, the U.S. cannot “again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul.”
Biden said that when there is justice for Floyd, the U.S. will be on its way to racial justice.
“We can’t turn away. We must not turn away. We cannot leave this moment thinking we can again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul, from systematic abuse that still plagues American life,” Biden said.
Biden specially mentioned Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna.
“I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations. Why? Why’s daddy gone?” he said.
Ivy McGregor, of The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, announced that the President of Ghana would be permanently mounting George Floyd’s name on a wall at the Diaspora African Forum in the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Ghana.
After the service, Houston Police are expected to escort Floyd’s body to the Houston Memorial Garden’s in nearby Pearland, Texas, for his burial.
For the last mile of the procession, his casket will travel by horse-drawn carriage. At the cemetery, Floyds will be laid to rest next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd.