George Floyd’s brother says ‘he touched so many hearts’ during moving memorial service
Hundreds attended a memorial service for George Floyd and held nearly 9 minutes of silence – the exact amount of time a police officer knelt on his neck before he died.
Speaking at the service in a chapel in Minneapolis’ North Central University yesterday, Mr Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd paid tribute to the tragic father, saying he had “touched so many hearts” during his life.
Holding back tears, he described how he and his brothers grew up so poor they would wash their clothes in the sink and dry them in the oven.
“It’s crazy man, all these people came to see my brother, it’s amazing he touched so many hearts,” he said, wearing a dark suit and a badge with a photo of his brother and the words “I can’t breathe” on his lapel.
Mr Floyd’s death has become a flashpoint for rage over police brutality against African Americans, sparking riots across the US and beyond.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was fired from the Minneapolis police force and charged with second-degree murder after being filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The unarmed victim can be heard gasping for air and repeatedly groaning, “Please, I can’t breathe.”
Police say they suspected Floyd, 46, of using a counterfeit bill to pay for cigarettes.
Huge crowds have defied curfews and taken to the streets of cities across the country for nine nights in sometimes violent protests that prompted President Donald Trump to threaten to send in the military.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for Mr Floyd’s family, told the memorial service that the police action that day was evil.
“What we saw in that video was evil,” he said. “So America, as we proclaim, as we memorialise George Floyd, do not accept evil.
“Protest against evil. We cannot cooperate with evil. We cannot cooperate with torture,” Mr Crump said.
Prosecutors leveled new charges against four former Minneapolis police officers implicated in the killing on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the three officers charged with aiding and abetting the murder of Mr Floyd made their first appearances in court.
Bail was set at $1million but would be lowered to $750,000 if they agreed to certain conditions, including forfeiting any personal firearms.
In New York City, which has been hit by looting during the protests, thousands of people attended a memorial event in a Brooklyn park for Mr Floyd.
Many knelt in the grass in the afternoon sunshine in a symbol of protest against police behavior and chanted, “No Justice. No Peace.”
US Representative Hakeem Jeffries urged people to continue their protests, saying the tragedy has awakened a cross-section of people who would bring lasting change.
“This time will be different, because the movement is being led by young African American sisters,” the New York Democrat told the crowd.
“This time will be different because it’s not a top-down movement, it’s a bottom-up-movement.”
A massive group of mourners was then filmed marching across the Brooklyn Bridge.
US Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday there had been evidence that foreign interests and “extremist agitators” affiliated with left-wing movements like Antifa were taking over the protests but offered no details.
The Reverend Al Sharpton, a television political commentator and civil rights activist, told the Minneapolis service that the overwhelming majority of protesters were peaceful.
“There have been protests all over the world. Some have looted and done other things. None of us condone it – looting and violence,” Rev Sharpton said.
“But there is a difference between those calling for peace – and those calling for quiet. Some y’all don’t want peace, you just want quiet. You just want us to suffer in silence.”
Services for Mr Floyd are expected to stretch across six days and three states, including memorials in North Carolina and Houston.
A funeral is planned for Tuesday.
The protests against Mr Floyd’s killing came close to the White House on Monday night when baton-swinging police used heavy handed tactics to drive demonstrators away.
Trump has threatened to send US troops to stamp out civil unrest against the wishes of state governors. That alarmed current and former military officials.
But his former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, after long refusing to explicitly criticize his former boss, denounced any militarisation of the response to protests.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try,” Mr Mattis, who resigned as defense secretary in 2018, wrote in a statement.