George Floyd memorial event underway in Minneapolis

George Floyd memorial event underway in Minneapolis

Watch the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis live on this page at 2 p.m. ET.

The first of three memorial gatherings for George Floyd is a service underway in Minneapolis, kicking off a series of events to mourn the man whose death empowered a national movement to call for change in policing methods and a national dialogue on race.

Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, will eulogize Floyd, and family attorney Ben Crump will also speak at Thursday’s tribute. The event will take place at North Central University in Minneapolis.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 in police custody. Demonstrations in cities across the U.S. to condemn racism and police abuses remained large, but have generally been marked by fewer violent incidents the past two nights than those that took place on the weekend and Monday night.

Sharpton spoke to reporters early Thursday in Minneapolis, describing it as a “moment of change in America.” While answering a question from a Radio-Canada reporter, Sharpton made reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s long pause earlier this week in response to a question about the U.S. protests.

The casket of George Floyd is seen ahead of his memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday, following his death in Minneapolis police custody. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

“It’s a new day … I’m going to express that in my eulogy, and since you’re from Canada, I won’t have a 21-second gap before I say what I have to say,” Sharpton said.

Organizers of a Minneapolis memorial for George Floyd placed floral arrangements around a golden casket Thursday, as families, friends and celebrities prepared to pay their respects to the man whose death sparked mass protests and calls for an end to racial injustice.

A black hearse was parked outside the Frank J. Lindquist sanctuary at North Central University hours before the memorial was to begin in Minneapolis — the first service to be held in the next six days across three communities where Floyd was born, grew up and died.

Watch | Protesters vow to continue fight for justice after George Floyd’s death:

After nine days of demonstrations, protesters say they’re continuing to fight for justice and not only for George Floyd. 3:11

Floyd to also be mourned in birthplace, previous hometown

Inside the sanctuary in Minneapolis, a self-portrait of Floyd stood to the left of the casket, and a blue-and-orange mural that had been painted at the site of a makeshift memorial at the site of his death was projected above the pulpit. A drum set, keyboard and four microphones stood ready for a small choir to perform.

The memorial service was expected to attract a wide array of celebrities, civil rights leaders, activists and politicians from around the country. Seats were reserved for actors and comedians Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall; actor and producer Tyler Perry; film producer Will Packer; Martin Luther King III; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz; Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey; Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar; U.S Senator Amy Klobuchar and many others.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, right, kneels with another officer as Floyd’s body is taken to the site of the memorial service. (Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

Floyd’s body will then travel to Raeford, N.C., where he was born 46 years ago, for a public viewing and private family service Saturday. There will also be a large service Monday in Houston, where Floyd spent most of his life, which will include addresses from Sharpton, Crump and Rev. Remus E. Wright, the family pastor. A private burial will follow.

Having left Houston for Minneapolis in 2014 in search of a job and a new life, Floyd will retrace that path, Sharpton said.

Sharpton planned to acknowledge the meaning Floyd had in life to his large family and the broader meaning he has assumed in death.

“It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants,” Sharpton said. “But it would also be inadequate … if you acted as though we’re at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.”

People visit a memorial at the site where George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Floyd, who was six-foot-six, once harboured dreams of playing professional basketball but had sometimes struggled to find employment in recent years. Police responded to a call on May 25 that alleged Floyd had passed a counterfeit bill.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, several Democrats in Congress gathered silently for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time it has been reported the main arresting officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while he
drew his final breaths.

WATCH l Wednesday night protest in U.S. largely peaceful:

Calls for justice rang out for a ninth day in cities across the United States in mostly peaceful demonstrations.   2:29

The calmer protests Wednesday came after prosecutors charged three more Minneapolis police officers — who are each scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon — and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the centre of the case, Derek Chauvin. If convicted, the officers could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.

Across the U.S., more than 10,000 people have been arrested in connection with unrest, a tally by The Associated Press shows. More than a dozen deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.

Published at Thu, 04 Jun 2020 10:51:33 +0000