‘When has America ever been great?’ George Floyd’s niece asks at his funeral

George Floyd’s niece has asked “when has America ever been great?” at his funeral.

Brooke Williams spoke passionately about the injustice she said her uncle received when he was killed on 25 May after police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mr Floyd, 46, pleaded he could not breathe and his death in custody sparked anti-racism protests in the US and around the world, including in the UK.

Brooke Williams
Image:Brooke Williams said America needs to change

Her question echoed Donald Trump’s campaign slogan – make America great again – although she did not name the president.

At the service in Houston, Texas, Ms Williams, referencing her uncle’s final words, said: “I can breathe and as long as I can breathe justice will be served.

“He always moved people with his words. The officer showed no remorse for watching my uncle’s soul leave his body.

“He begged and pleaded for you to just get up.

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“Why must this system be corrupt and broken? Laws were put in place for the African-American system to fail. These laws need to be changed. No more hate crimes, please.

“Someone said make America great again. When has America ever been great?”

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Speaking at the private funeral that was broadcast live, she called Mr Floyd’s death “not just a murder, this is a hate crime”.

“America, it is time for a change, even if it begins with protests, no justice no peace,” Ms Williams added.

“My brother and mum tells me this all the time – God says high, he lives low. Thank you Houston, he’s always loving the hometown.”

Rev Dr Mary White prays in front of a picture of George Floyd as an angel
Image:Rev Dr Mary White prays in front of a picture of George Floyd as an angel

Ms Williams spoke after Mr Floyd’s brother broke down in tears remembering his sibling, and after others spoke about their time at school with him in Houston, most memorably for his basketball skills.

While Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis, he only lived there for a few years and grew up in Houston where he will be laid to rest next to his mother’s grave.

George Floyd's son Quincy Mason Floyd in front of his father's casket
Image:George Floyd’s son Quincy Mason Floyd in front of his father’s coffin
Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd's youngest daughter, Gianna, comforts her during his funeral
Image:Roxie Washington, the mother of George Floyd’s youngest daughter, Gianna, comforts her during his funeral

Earlier in the funeral, Democratic US presidential nominee Joe Biden also spoke to Mr Floyd’s family and friends via a recorded message.

Mr Biden, who had a meeting with the family on Monday night, told mourners: “Now is the time for racial justice.

“That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why.

Joe Biden speaks at George Floyd's funeral

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“Because when there’s justice for George Floyd we will truly be on the way to racial justice for America.

“And then, as you said Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”

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Mark Gibson

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

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