Flowers seen outside the church where George Floyd's funeral was held in Houston, Texas, the United States, on June 9, 2020.
Flowers seen outside the church where George Floyd's funeral was held in Houston, Texas, the United States, on June 9, 2020. Chengyue Lao/Xinhua/IANS

Funeral held in Houston to bid farewell to George Floyd

Houston, June 10, 2020

The funeral of African American George Floyd was held in the southern US city of Houston, where he was brought up and spent most of his life, two weeks after his tragic death in police custody in Minneapolis.

Hundreds of people came to say a final goodbye to Floyd at the Fountain of Praise Church on Tuesday. Memorial services had also been held for Floyd in Minneapolis and North Carolina, Xinhua news agency reported.

Beginning at around 11 a.m. Central Time (1600 GMT), the private funeral service celebrated Floyd's home-coming with over an hour of singing and praying, before families and friends took turns to share their memories of Floyd and his 46 years of life.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden sent his condolences to Floyd's family via video.

Speaking to Floyd's six-year-old daughter, Gianna, Biden said, "You're so brave ... No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations: Why? Why's daddy gone?"

"Why, in this nation, do too many black Americans wake up knowing that they could lose their life in the course of just living their life? " he continued.

"When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America," said the expected Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election.

Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner announced at the funeral that he would sign an executive order banning city police from using chokeholds and strangleholds.

Officers will also be required to give a warning before shooting, he added.

"We honour him today," said Turner. "Because when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe."

Floyd's death has galvanized a movement in the country and beyond calling for racial justice and police reform. Protests have been held across the country in the past two weeks with tens of thousands showing up, which sometimes ended in late-night violence and looting.

The funeral heard impassioned pleas for racial justice.

Speakers in the church in Houston, Texas, lined up to remember a man whose "crime was that he was born black", the BBC reported.

Floyd died in Minneapolis last month as a white police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, his final moments filmed on phones.

Four police officers involved have been sacked and charged over his death.

His coffin was taken to the Houston Memorial Gardens where he was buried beside his mother.

One of Floyd's nieces, Brooke Williams, called for a change in laws which, she argued, were designed to disadvantage black people.

"Why must this system be corrupt and broken?" she asked "Laws were already put in place for the African-American system to fail. And these laws need to be changed. No more hate crimes, please! Someone said 'Make America Great Again' but when has America ever been great?"

"George Floyd was not expendable - this is why we're here," said Al Green, the local Democratic congressman. "His crime was that he was born black."

Veteran civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton told the service: "All over the world I see grandchildren of slave masters tearing down slave masters' statues."

Talking about Floyd's difficult life, he said: "God took the rejected stone and made him the cornerstone of a movement that's gonna change the whole wide world."

In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz called on people to honour the funeral by observing silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Floyd was pinned to the ground before he died.


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