Mourners gather for Floyd service
MINNEAPOLIS •Hundreds of mourners in Minneapolis on Thursday remembered George Floyd, the black man whose death in police custody set off a wave of nationwide protests that reached the doors of the White House and ignited a debate about race and justice.
“Everyone wants justice, we want justice for George, he’s going to get it,” Philonise Floyd, Floyd’s brother, told a memorial service at a chapel in the Minnesota city’s North Central University.
“It’s crazy, man, all these people came to see my brother, it’s amazing he touched so many hearts,” said Floyd, wearing a dark suit and a badge with a photo of his brother and the words “I can’t breathe” on his lapel.
Floyd’s death on May 25 has become the latest flashpoint for rage over police brutality against African Americans, propelling the issue of race to the top of the agenda before the presidential election in the United States on Nov. 3.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was fired from the Minneapolis police force and charged with second-degree murder after being filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, “Please, I can’t breathe.”
Police say they suspected Floyd, 46, of using a counterfeit bill to pay for cigarettes.
Huge crowds have defied curfews and taken to the streets across the country for nine nights in sometimes violent protests that prompted President Donald Trump to threaten to send in the military.
“It’s going to take a united effort inside the courtroom and outside the courtroom to get justice for George Floyd,” Ben Crump, a lawyer for Floyd’s family, told the memorial service.
On Thursday the three officers charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Floyd made their first appearances in court, where bail was set at $1.35 million but would be lowered to $1 million if they agreed to certain conditions.
In New York City, thousands attended a memorial event in a Brooklyn park. Many knelt in a symbol of protest and chanted, “No Justice. No Peace.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio called on white people to do more to understand African-american communities.
“For all of us who have not walked a mile in the shoes of the black community ... we need to do more, because we don’t even fully recognize the daily pain that the racism in this society causes,” he said.
Services for Floyd are expected to stretch across six days. Memorials will also be held on Saturday in Hoke County, North Carolina, where Floyd’s sister lives, and in Houston on Monday, near where Floyd had lived. A funeral is planned for Tuesday with private services at an undisclosed location.