The Black man whose death has inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice will be buried in Houston Tuesday, carried home in a horse-drawn carriage.
George Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed, will be laid to rest next to his mother. On May 25, as a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck, the dying man cried out for his mother.
His funeral will be private. Some 6,000 people attended a public memorial service Monday in Houston, where he grew up.
Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — one of the other things he cried out repeatedly while pinned down by the police officer — waited for hours to pay their respects. Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-colored casket.
Shorty after the memorial ended, Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.
As the hearse drove away, 39-year-old Daniel Osarobo, a Houston resident who immigrated from Nigeria, could be heard saying, “Rest in power. Rest In Peace.”
“I’ve been stopped by police. I understand the situation. I can only imagine,” said Osarobo, who works as an engineer in the oil and gas industry. “What if it was me? What if it was my brother? What if it was my sister? What if it was my son?”
Those were questions many Black Americans have asked not just in recent weeks, but for decades.
Floyd’s death sparked international protests and drew new attention to the treatment of African Americans in the U.S. by police and the criminal justice system. In the past two weeks, sweeping and previously unthinkable things have taken place: Confederate statues have been toppled, police departments around America have rethought the way they patrol minority neighbourhoods, legislatures have debated use-of-force policies, and white, Black and brown people have had uncomfortable, sometimes heated, discussions about race in a nation that is supposed to ensure equal opportunity for all.
Calls for “defunding the police” have cropped up in many communities, and people around the world have taken to the streets in solidarity, saying that reforms and dialogue must not stop with Floyd’s funeral.
His death has also reshaped the presidential race. To be re-elected, President Donald Trump must rebound from one of the lowest points of his presidency, with recent polls showing that 8 in 10 Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and even spiraling out of control. The president got a boost late last week with a better-than-expected jobs report, but he’s struggling to show consistent leadership on multiple fronts, including the nationwide protests against police brutality.
Meanwhile, former Vice-President Joe Biden met with Floyd’s family Monday, according to a photo posted on Twitter by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Biden will provide a video message for Floyd’s funeral service. Previous memorials have taken place in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, near where Floyd was born.