George Floyd’s memorial service held on Thursday in Minneapolis came with calls for sweeping criminal justice reforms in the United States.
The service, attended by Floyd’s family, friends and public officials, heard a eulogy from Rev Al Sharpton, the president of the civil rights organization, National Action Network.
Sharpton called Floyd’s killing symbolic of the subjugation black Americans have been facing since the founding of the nation.
“The reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be, is you kept your knee on our neck,” said Sharpton. “What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country – in education, in health services and in every area of American life.
“It is time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’”
Sharpton also announced a march in Washington on August 28, the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March to “recommit” to King’s ideals and to once again, push for criminal justice reform in the country.
“In one era we had to fight slavery,” Sharpton said, “another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal with policing and criminal justice.”
Floyd’s family attorney Benjamin Crump also called for a private ceremony to celebrate Floyd’s life and make a “plea to America and a plea for justice that we don’t let his death be in vain.”
During the service, Floyd’s family also took to the stage to mourn him. His brother, Rodney Floyd spoke of how their family was not well-off but was “full of love.” His other brother, Philonise Floyd also recalled Floyd as a kind soul who often brought home school kids who had nowhere to go.
“Sometimes there were 30 or 40 kids in the house,” he said. “He touched so many people.”
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also paid their respects to Floyd and his family.
Towards the end of the service, Sharpton called those in attendance to stand in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Several people in the back echoed Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe.”
“They had enough time,” Sharpton said of the police officers as the moment of silence ended. “Now what are we going to do with our time?”
As Floyd’s casket rolled away in a hearse, people watched quietly and threw their fists up in the air.
George Floyd was killed when former police officer Derek Chauvin, held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, suffocating Floyd to death. Chauvin has now been charged with second-degree murder.
The three other officers at the scene of Floyd’s death have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
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