PHOTOS: Hundreds line up for George Floyd’s memorial in Houston

The casket of George Floyd arrives for a public memorial at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Monday, June 8, 2020. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)The casket of George Floyd arrives for a public memorial at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Monday, June 8, 2020. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)Mourners pass by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
People demonstrate as guest arrive at a public visitation for George Floyd on Monday, June 8, 2020 at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)People demonstrate as guest arrive at a public visitation for George Floyd on Monday, June 8, 2020 at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Alejandra Lopez and Norberto Lobez lay a banner over the hood of a hearse while participating in a processional to honor the life of George Floyd, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Long Beach, Calif. People protest over the death of George Floyd who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)Alejandra Lopez and Norberto Lobez lay a banner over the hood of a hearse while participating in a processional to honor the life of George Floyd, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Long Beach, Calif. People protest over the death of George Floyd who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Houston Police Department chief Art Acevedo and assistant chief Sheryl Victorian visit the open casket of George Floyd during a public visitation Monday, June 8, 2020, at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston. (Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)Houston Police Department chief Art Acevedo and assistant chief Sheryl Victorian visit the open casket of George Floyd during a public visitation Monday, June 8, 2020, at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston. (Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)

Hundreds of mourners lined up outside a church in George Floyd’s native Houston for a final public viewing Monday as his death two weeks ago at the hands of police continued spurring protesters, leaders and cities around the world into action over demands to address racial injustice and police brutality.

As the doors opened at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where Floyd spent most of his life, Floyd was lying in an open gold-colored casket, dressed in a brown suit. His body was escorted to what organizers say will be a six-hour public viewing that was expected to draw thousands of mourners.

Mourners, many wearing masks and T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe,” stood 6 feet apart as they paused briefly to view the casket. Some made the sign of the cross as they passed by. On the stage behind the casket were two identical murals of Floyd wearing a black cap that read “Houston” and angel wings drawn behind him.

“With this happening to him, it’s going to make a difference in the world,” said Pam Robinson, who grew up with Floyd in Houston and handed out bottled water to mourners waiting outside in the searing Texas heat. One man in the line, which had no shade, collapsed as temperatures spiked above 90 degrees and was taken by stretcher to a cooling station set up in front of the church.

The mourners came from near and far: Comill Adams said she drove more than seven hours from Oklahoma City with her family, including two children ages 8 and 10. They wore matching black T-shirts with “I Can’t Breathe” on the back — shirts she made up specifically or the memorial.

“We had been watching the protests on TV. We’ve been at home feeling outraged. At times it brought us to tears,” Adams said. “The fact this one is causing change, we had to come be a part of.”

READ MORE: Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police and the U.S. criminal justice system.

Even as the service began, the impact of his death continued to resonate both at home and abroad. In Paris, France’s top security official said police will no longer conduct choke holds that have been blamed for multiple cases of asphyxiation and have come under renewed criticism after Floyd’s death. And in Washington, Democrats in Congress proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures, a potentially far-reaching legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

Before Floyd’s casket arrived, workers outside the church assembled a large floral arrangement with white roses on one side in the shape of a heart and with the initials “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter, created from blue roses and placed on top of the heart. The other side of the floral arrangement was made up of red roses and appeared to be in the shape of a raised fist.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was among the first to view the casket and planned to meet privately with the family later. He wore a striped gold and crimson tie, the colours of Floyd’s Houston high school.

“George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States. George Floyd has not died in vain. His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas responds to this tragedy,” Abbott said.

A majority of the Minneapolis City Council has vowed to dismantle the city’s 800-member police agency. On Monday, Derek Chauvin — the officer filmed pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck and one of four to be fired from the department in the aftermath of Floyd’s death — is scheduled to make his first court appearance since the charge against him was upgraded to second-degree murder.

In Washington House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence at the Capitol’s Emancipation Hall before proposing legislative changes in policing oversight, reading the names of George Floyd and others killed during police interactions. They knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — now a symbol of police brutality and violence — the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under a white police officer’s knee before he died.

The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes, according to an early draft. It is the most ambitious change to law enforcement sought by Congress in years.

Floyd’s funeral will be Tuesday, followed by burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in suburban Pearland, where he will be laid to rest next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden planned to travel to Houston to meet with Floyd’s family and 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.

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country since protests began, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press. Videos have surfaced of officers in riot gear using tear gas or physical force against even peaceful demonstrators.

But U.S. protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful — and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics.

Several cities have also lifted curfews, including Chicago and New York City, where the governor urged protesters to get tested for the coronavirus and to proceed with caution until they had. Leaders around the country have expressed concern that demonstrations could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.

Floyd was raised in Houston’s Third Ward and was a well-known former high school football player who rapped with local legend DJ Screw. He moved to Minneapolis several years ago to seek work and a fresh start. His face now appears on a mural in his old neighbourhood, and his name was chanted by tens of thousands last week at a protest and march in downtown Houston.

ALSO READ: Amid anti-racism protests, Trudeau promises to push police body cameras with premiers

Juan A. Lozano And Nomaan Merchant, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

PoliceracismUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘We walk in grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

The four-day trek on foot and by ferry will see them end at the legislature

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

Thw male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. Photo: Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News
Interior Health opens up vaccine eligibility in Columbia Valley to 18 years or older

Only local residents can register and book appointments as COVID-19 case counts spike in the region

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks to return to play Sunday versus Leafs after COVID-19 outbreak

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Most Read