Two weeks after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota — sparking nationwide protests against racism and police brutality — he is being laid to rest in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday.
Floyd’s family, clad in white, and friends gathered with elected officials and civil rights leaders at the Fountain of Praise church to remember Floyd for his third and final funeral service before the burial. They were joined by the families of other Black people killed at the hands of police, such as Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, and Eric Garner. Even though the service was limited to 500 people, hundreds of mourners traveled to the church, not expecting to make it inside. They gathered instead outside the church to show support and solidarity.
Through video, former Vice President Joe Biden addressed Floyd’s family at the service. “Unlike most, you must grieve in public and it’s a burden. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better, in the name of George Floyd,” he said.
He also spoke directly to Floyd’s daughter, Gianna. “You are so brave, I know you have a lot of questions, honey,” he said. “No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have to ask for generations, ‘Why is Daddy gone?’”
Joe Biden’s remarks at the funeral service of George Floyd:— Kamau M. Marshall (@KamauMandela) June 9, 2020
"We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul, from systemic abuse that still plagues American life."
Biden earlier this week endorsed police reforms but shied away from endorsing “defunding the police,” one of the key policy positions that has emerged from several weeks of near-constant protests.
Several Texas Democratic elected officials also attended the service. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) called for recognizing and accepting our differences during a speech. “We have got to reconcile,” he said. “This country has not reconciled its differences with us. We survived slavery but we didn’t reconcile. We survived segregation but we didn’t reconcile.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) also addressed the gathering. “Let me heal the wound of the majority of African American men who have suffered at the hands of a wrong mindset,” she said. “A warrior mindset instead of a guardian of peace mindset in the practice of law enforcement.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at an earlier service in Minneapolis for Floyd, and called for a march on Washington at that time, gave the eulogy Tuesday. “Equal justice, equal fairness, we’re not anti-anybody,” Sharpton said Tuesday. “We’re trying to stop people from being anti-us.”
Floyd, who grew up in Houston, was also memorialized in Minneapolis last Thursday and in North Carolina on Saturday. Tuesday’s funeral in Houston will be his third and final memorial.
Floyd was born in Raeford, North Carolina, but he grew up in Houston’s Third Ward. He attended Yates High School and played tight end for the Yates football team, playing the state championship game at the Astrodome in 1992. He lived in Houston until four or five years ago, when he moved to Minneapolis to try to get a fresh start.
A horse-drawn carriage will bring Floyd’s remains to his gravesite after the funeral. He’ll be buried next to his mom, whom he called out for in his final moments.
It was a day devoted to Floyd, but one that also acknowledged the national uprising his death helped spark. Houston mayor Sylvester Turner announced during a speech that he will sign an executive order banning police chokeholds and other reforms.