MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Thursday is a day of mourning and celebration for the man many loved. Family and friends are gathering to remember George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Organizers of a Minneapolis memorial for Floyd placed floral arrangements around a golden casket as mourners prepared to pay their respects. The memorial service is being held at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis. The service, which was not opened to the public, was streamed on CBSN Minnesota.
Memorial services to honor Floyd are taking place in three cities over six days. Floyd’s funeral will be held in Houston next week, and the other service will be in Raeford, North Carolina.
The emotion in the room was palpable. Minnesota leaders were brought to their knees, a crowd brought to their feet in support of Floyd.
The memorial began with a reading of scripture from Rev. Jerry McAfee, pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, and a prayer from the president of North Central University, Dr. Scott Hagen.
McAfee read from Psalms 27, which begins: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?”
Hagen said that the university had launched a new George Floyd scholarship for aspiring, young black leaders, and challenged every university to establish their own scholarship fund in Floyd’s name as well.
Following that, Liwana Porter sang “Amazing Grace” to the gathered congregation of grieving relatives, friends and members of the community.
Ben Crump, attorney for the Floyd family, said that because of coronavirus the service would be on a tight scheduled, and then pointed out that it wasn’t coronavirus that killed Floyd but a different pandemic — that of systemic racism. He then brought up family members to speak about Floyd, most of them having come in from Texas.
They described a man known for his love of banana sandwiches, for his love for his children, grandchild, siblings and nephew.
“We didn’t have much, but we had a house full of love,” his youngest brother Rodney Floyd told the congregation.
Crump then quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying “He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really like cooperating with it,” after thanking the Floyd family and joking, “If we’ve learned one thing, the Floyd boys like to eat!”
Before bringing up the Rev. Al Sharpton to deliver the eulogy, Crump said, “We will seek justice in his name. We, all united as God’s children, will seek justice in his name.”
“George Floyd should not be among the deceased. He did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction. He died because there has not been corrective behavior that has taught this country that if you commit a crime, it doesn’t matter whether you wear blue jeans or a blue uniform that you must pay for the crime you commit,” Sharpton said, and urged President Donald Trump — who held a Bible in a photo op earlier this week, which Sharpton said he used as “a prop” — to open the book and read it.
“This family will not let you use George as a prop,” Sharpton added.
Sharpton also said the world is counting on Floyd’s legacy for change.
“What happened to George Floyd happens everywhere. It’s time to stand up and say ‘Get your knee off our necks,'” Sharpton said.
In a symbolic gesture, the crowd stood in silence for the amount of time Floyd had Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck: 8 minutes, 46 seconds.
Notables who were in attendance at the memorial in Minneapolis included Gov. Tim Walz, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Jacob Frey, Rev. Jesse Jackson, musicians Ludacris, T.I. and Master P, producer Will Packer, and actors Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart and Tyrese Gibson.
Floyd was killed last week in south Minneapolis, after a 911 call about a counterfeit $20 bill ended with Floyd’s death at the hands of four police officers, who have been fired from the MPD and all face criminal charges.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, accusing him of causing Floyd’s death without intent. He was the seen around the world with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he said, “I can’t breathe.”
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng have all been charged with aiding and abetting in the crime.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stressed this investigation will take time. He asked for patience from the community, saying they won’t be able to say much publicly as they build a case.
“To the Floyd family, to our beloved community, and everyone who’s watching. George Floyd mattered. He was, his family was important. His life had value and we will seek justice for him and for you and we will find it,” Ellison said Wednesday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)