‘He sacrificed for the world’: George Floyd to be laid to rest

When George Floyd left Houston it was in search of a fresh start in life.

He returned to Texas in death, his name now the focus of a nationwide, a worldwide, call to action.

George Floyd’s funeral at The Fountain of Praise Church will be attended, alongside his family and friends, by political, religious and civil rights leaders.

His death on a Minneapolis street two weeks ago, so public and so brutal, has sparked protests, marches and rallies. Millions are demanding America finally and properly address the age-old problem of inequality in the treatment of the African-American community.

Minneapolis police arrest man who later dies

The 8m 46s that killed George Floyd

On Monday, thousands queued in the heat and humidity of Houston to pay their respects at the final public memorial. In groups of 500, they filed past his open gold-coloured coffin.

“Change has come,” said Jesse Holmes. What Martin Luther King had long sought, he said, George Floyd had delivered. “The world will never be the same. We’re thankful. He sacrificed for the world.”

At the same time, the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was meeting George Floyd’s family. His ‘compassion, the family’s lawyer said, “meant the world to them”. The former vice-president has recorded a video message to be played at today’s funeral service.

More from George Floyd

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  • George Floyd protests: Priti Patel recalls childhood racial slurs as she condemns ‘hooliganism’ towards police

  • George Floyd death: Senior Democrats kneel for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honour of black man killed in police custody

  • Republic Records drops term ‘urban’ to describe music made by black artists

  • Police call for apology from bosses after 49 officers injured during anti-racism protests

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with George Floyd's family
Image:Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with George Floyd’s family

The reckoning in America following George Floyd’s death has forced the issue on to the agenda of the nation’s politicians. Biden has described Donald Trump’s response as “despicable”, Trump has retreated to a message of “law and order”.

In Washington DC, Democrats on Capitol Hill knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time Mr Floyd spent with a police officer’s knee on his neck – to honour him and the campaign his death has reignited. The party also unveiled proposals to overhaul police procedures.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for “transformative structural change”.

Ms Pelosi was among those who kneeled at the Capitol

Pelosi leads Democrats in kneeling for George Floyd

But across America there is a real determination to keep the pressure on those politicians, many of whom have been in office for decades, to demonstrate that serious change will take place this time.

Anger and outrage at deaths in the past has too often faded with little material change.

Mourners file past the open coffin of George Floyd
Image:Mourners file past the open coffin of George Floyd

In Houston, as in his birthplace in North Carolina at the weekend, the memorials for George Floyd represent a sense of personal loss.

A highly-talented basketball and football player, known to friends and family by his middle name Perry, he was also a familiar figure on the city’s hip hop scene. He moved to Minneapolis six years ago but two of his children still live in Texas.

A memorial honouring George Floyd in Houston's Third Ward where he grew up
Image:A memorial honouring George Floyd in Houston’s Third Ward where he grew up

There is a new mural in his memory near his old home in Houston’s Third Ward.

“It is a watershed moment for the American people,” said Houston’s police chief Art Acevedo.

Following his funeral service, George Floyd will be laid to rest at a cemetery in the suburb of Pearland.

He will be buried next to his mother, the end of a life story that could reverberate for generations, in a legacy of real and lasting change.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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