On Tuesday, mourners in Houston gathered to say goodbye to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ignited a nationwide movement calling for an end to racist policing.
An intimate group of family members, friends, civil rights leaders and elected officials gathered at Fountain of Praise church to remember the 46-year-old Floyd’s life, which was taken on May 25, after Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 45 seconds. In death, Floyd’s name and image has been chalked on sidewalks, projected on buildings, and recited by protestors all over the country.
As he did at last week’s memorial in Minneapolis, Reverend Al Sharpton eulogized Floyd, calling out bad police officers who are “protected by wickedness in high places,” and reciting the names of other black victims killed by police.
Per the New York Times:
“The mother of Trayvon Martin, will you stand,” he said. “The mother of Eric Garner, will you stand. The sister of Botham Jean, will you stand. The family of Pamela Turner, here in Houston, will you stand. The father of Michael Brown from Ferguson, Mo., will you stand. The father of Ahmaud Arbery, will you stand.
“All of these families came to stand with this family because they know better than anyone else the pain they will suffer from the loss that they have gone through,” Mr. Sharpton said.
Sharpton also celebrated Floyd for helping to change “the whole wide world.” “Your family is going to miss you George, but your nation is going to always remember your name,” he said. “Because your neck was one that represents all of us, and how you suffered is how we all suffer.”
Democratic congressman Al Green also spoke. “George Floyd was not expendable—this is why we’re here,” he said. “His crime was that he was born black.”
Floyd, who grew up in Houston’s Third Ward, was also remembered by people who knew and loved him before he became the name and face of a movement. “I would like to thank the whole world,” his aunt, Kathleen McGee, said. “But I just want to make this statement: The world knows George Floyd, I know Perry Jr,” referring to his middle and nickname. His brothers spoke about the horror of watching him die on camera:
His younger brother, Terrence Floyd, spoke about awakening in the middle of the night in recent days traumatized by the memory of seeing his older sibling calling out for their mother as he lay dying.
His older brother, Philonise, sobbing in grief, told mourners, “George was my personal superman.”
And Floyd’s niece, Brooklyn Williams, criticized the racist system that killed her uncle. ““Someone said, ‘Make America great again,’ but when has America ever been great?” she said, adding, “I can breathe. As long as I am breathing, justice will be served for Perry.”