Thousands of mourners wearing protective masks and gloves waited in line for hours outside a megachurch in Houston on Monday to pay their last respects at the final public memorial for George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose killing sparked global protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, groups of 15 people at a time were allowed inside the Fountain of Praise Church to view Floyd’s body, which was laid in a gold-colored casket paid for by boxer Floyd Mayweather. Many of the mourners wore T-shirts bearing Floyd’s likeness or the words “I can’t breathe,” the phrase Floyd uttered as Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, who made his first court appearance via video monitor from Oak Park Heights prison, where he is being held.
Monday’s public memorial in Houston was the third since Floyd was killed; the first, which took place Friday in Minneapolis, featured impassioned speeches from the Rev. Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney; the second was on Saturday in Raeford, N.C., where Floyd was born. (He lived in Houston’s Third Ward before moving to Minneapolis five years ago.)
Several people waiting in line to view Floyd’s body were treated for heat-related illnesses. Temperatures in Houston hovered around 93 degrees.
A private funeral for Floyd will be held at the Fountain of Praise Church on Tuesday, followed by his burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens in nearby Pearland.
Among those paying their respects to Floyd on Monday were Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. Former Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Houston to privately meet with Floyd’s family. Biden did not attend the viewing, nor was he expected to attend Tuesday’s funeral because he did not want his Secret Service detail to disrupt the services. (Biden will reportedly record a video message to be played at the funeral.)
— Benjamin Crump, Esq. (@AttorneyCrump) June 8, 2020
Earlier Monday, Democratic lawmakers unveiled the Justice in Policing Act in an effort to significantly reform law enforcement practices. That legislation, however, appears to fall far short of demands activists have made in recent days, further imperiling the bill’s long-shot prospects for passage into law.
In particular, the legislation stops short of defunding the police.
President Trump, who has been widely criticized for his response to the protests over Floyd’s killing, said Friday that his plan to address systemic racism in the United States is to “have the strongest economy in the world.”
“That’s what my plan is,” Trump said.
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