George Floyd to be eulogized in Minneapolis memorial, first of 3 nationwide
Mourners gathered in Minneapolis on Thursday for the first in a series of a memorials to George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police has sparked protests around the world against racial injustice.
The afternoon event was set for North Central University, where civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to be among those eulogizing the 46-year-old Floyd.
“He was a human being. He had family, he had dreams, he had hopes. The real duty of one with this type of assignment is to underscore the value of the human life that was taken, which gives the reason the movement was occurring,” Sharpton said ahead of the gathering.
Memorials are set to take place in three cities over six days: After the Minneapolis event, Floyd’s body will go to Raeford, N.C., where he was born, for a public viewing and private family service on Saturday.
Next, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. Then a 500-person service will take place Tuesday at the Fountain of Praise church.
The farewells for Floyd — an out-of-work bouncer who was arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store and died after a white officer pressed his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes — come as demonstrations across the U.S. and around the globe continue.
In the U.S., where protests had been marked by bouts of lawlessness earlier in the week, relative quiet continued for a second straight night Wednesday following a decision by prosecutors to charge the three other Minneapolis officers at the scene of Floyd’s death with aiding and abetting a murder.
Authorities also filed a new, more serious murder charge — second degree, up from third degree — against the officer at the center of the case, Derek Chauvin.
If convicted, they could get 40 years in prison.
The new charges punctuated an unprecedented week in modern American history, in which largely peaceful protests took place in communities of all sizes but were rocked by bursts of violence, including deadly attacks on officers, theft, vandalism and arson. In Minneapolis alone, more than 220 buildings were damaged or burned, with damage topping $55 million, city officials said.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 people have been arrested, an Associated Press tally found. More than a dozen deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
From Paris and London to Tel Aviv, Sydney, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro, Floyd’s death has triggered demonstrations, with protesters decrying inequality, police brutality and other problems in their own countries.
“It’s a solidarity question. We stand with our brothers, internationally, our sisters as well, but the same thing is happening here. It’s no different,” Isaak Kabenge said in Stockholm.
The attorney for Floyd’s family, Ben Crump, called the additional charges against the officers “a bittersweet moment” and “a significant step forward on the road to justice.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, said Americans needed to “seize the moment” and confront the effects of racism, including unequal educational and economic opportunities.
“I think this is probably our last shot,” he said, “as a state and as a nation, to fix this systemic issue.”
Hundreds of protesters were in New York City’s Washington Square Park when the charges were announced.
“It’s not enough,” protester Jonathan Roldan said, insisting all four officers should have been charged from the start. “Right now, we’re still marching because it’s not enough that they got arrested. There needs to be systematic change.”
The mood in New York turned somber later in the day after a police officer on an anti-looting patrol was ambushed by a man who walked up behind him and stabbed him in the neck. Two other officers suffered gunshot wounds to their hands in the struggle, and the attacker was in critical condition after being shot by police.
The new second-degree-murder charge alleges Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing another felony, namely assault. It carries a heavier sentence than the third-degree charge, which is punishable by up to 25 years behind bars.
The other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face the same maximum penalties.
On Wednesday night, an overpowering security team — including officers from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and, according to a senior Defense official, at least 2,200 National Guard members — was out in force as thousands of peaceful protesters demonstrated in the nation’s capital.
Military vehicles were parked on streets near the White House. An FBI plane, an Army surveillance plane and a Park Police helicopter circled overhead.
At one point near the White House, protesters knelt and sang “Amazing Grace” amid officers in riot gear. “We are not going anywhere!” they chanted. There were no signs of confrontations.
Protester Jade Jones, 30, said the demonstrations would continue despite the new charges.
“That’s the least they could do,” Jones said. “It’s not going to wipe away 400 years of pain.”
In New York City, where high-end stores were looted in earlier days, some businesses fortified their property. Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows were boarded up, then covered in chain-link fencing and razor wire as a line of tattooed men with dogs stood guard out front.
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