George Floyd memorial: Mourners gather in Minneapolis to pay respect

4 June 2020, 14:20

Mr Floyd's casket sat beneath a picture of a mural that has been painted next to where he died
Mr Floyd's casket sat beneath a picture of a mural that has been painted next to where he died. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Mourners have gathered in Minneapolis to pay their respects to George Floyd in the first of three memorials ahead of his funeral next week.

The private memorial, held on Thursday at the city's North Central University campus, had an undisclosed guest list - although Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he planned to attend, and other celebrities, civil rights activists and politicians were spotted arriving.

They included: Rev Jesse Jackson, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, US Reps Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Ayana Pressley and Joyce Beatty; rappers TI - with his wife Tiny - Ludacris, and Tyrese Gibson; comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish; and actress Marsai Martin.

Hundreds of people were also expected to gather outside the location, according to local media.

READ MORE: Shop owner who called police on George Floyd says he won't again until they 'stop killing innocent people'

Mr Floyd's son Quincy Mason (centre) kneels with his uncle Twain Mason (right) and family lawyer Ben Crump (left) at a memorial site
Mr Floyd's son Quincy Mason (centre) kneels with his uncle Twain Mason (right) and family lawyer Ben Crump (left) at a memorial site. Picture: PA
Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many well-known faces to attend the memorial
Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many well-known faces to attend the memorial. Picture: PA

Inside the hall, Mr Floyd's casket was placed beneath a picture of a mural painted at the site where he died, and the choir sang a gospel classic Goin' Up Yonder.

Civil rights leader Al Sharpton later delivered a eulogy for Mr Floyd, saying it would be "inadequate" if people were to pretend the event was held under natural circumstances.

He said: "It would be inadequate if you did not regard the life and love and celebration the family wants.

"But it would also be inadequate ... if you acted as though we're at a funeral that happened under natural circumstances.

"The family is not independent of the community. The family wants to see something happen."

Mr Floyd's death shocked the world after now infamous footage showed the unarmed 46-year-old's final moments as he laid face down on road in Minneapolis with a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck.

Despite pleas from Mr Floyd that he couldn't breathe, Chauvin remained in place for more than eight minutes.

Mr Floyd never regained consciousness - and his death has since revived fierce debate about racial discrimination in the US judicial system, and has sparked protests against police brutality worldwide.

READ MORE: Protesters tear gassed so Donald Trump can have photos taken at church

READ MORE: Lorry drives into protest for George Floyd on Minneapolis highway

George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes on end
George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for minutes on end. Picture: Social media

The memorial on Thursday is the first of three scheduled ahead of Mr Floyd's funeral next week in Houston, Texas - the city where he spent most of his life.

A second will be held on Saturday in North Carolina, where he was born.

On Monday afternoon, a public viewing will be held at Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. His funeral will be held the following morning.

Kevin Hart was also at the memorial on Thursday
Kevin Hart was also at the memorial on Thursday. Picture: PA

Around 500 people are expected to be in attendance on Tuesday, with speeches from Mr Sharpton, the family lawyer Ben Crump, and the family pastor, Rev Remus E Wright.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is also tipped to attend alongside other celebrities.

A private burial will take place shortly after the service.

READ MORE: President Trump says New York is 'lost' to 'lowlifes and scum' amid protests

READ MORE: Police officers across the US take a knee to honour George Floyd and the protests

According to Mr Sharpton, the final journey for Mr Floyd from Minneapolis to Houston was a deliberate one - to retrace his footsteps from when he left Houston in 2014 to search for a new life in the city where he eventually lost his life.

He said: "They collectively said we need to make the first memorial statement from the city he chose to go to make a living, that ended his life."

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz attended alongside his wife Gwen
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz attended alongside his wife Gwen. Picture: PA

The memorial also comes just a day after Chauvin's charges were elevated from third-degree to second-degree murder, and the three police officers he was on duty with at the time of Mr Floyd's death also received charges.

Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

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