A private funeral was held in Houston Tuesday for George Floyd, two weeks after a Minneapolis police officer killed him by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death has sparked protests against police brutality and racism across the United States and around the world. We play excerpts from the funeral service and hear from Floyd’s family and dignitaries.
AMY GOODMAN: After weeks of protests over the police killing of George Floyd, his family and friends gathered Tuesday in Houston, the city where he was raised, for a private funeral, to lay him to rest and to call for change. This comes after a public viewing Monday, when more than 6,000 people paid their respects. After the funeral, Floyd’s golden coffin was driven to a cemetery to be buried beside his mother. Houstonians lined the streets as his motorcade passed. A horse-drawn carriage carried his coffin for the last mile of the procession. This is George Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams, speaking at the funeral.
BROOKE WILLIAMS: Hello. My name is Brooke Williams, George Floyd’s niece. And I can breathe. Long as I’m breathing, justice will be served for Perry!
First off, I want to thank all of you for coming out to support George Perry Floyd. My uncle was a father, brother, uncle and a cousin to many, spiritually grounded, an activist. He always moved people with his words.
The officers showed no remorse while watching my uncle’s soul leave his body. He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder. Why must the system be corrupt and broken? …
Someone said, 'Make America great again.' But when has America ever been great?
Those four officers were literally on him for nine minutes, and none of them showed they have a heart or soul. This is not just murder, but a hate crime.
I share happy memories with my uncle. And that’s all I have, are memories. I still can’t pull myself together to how he was calling out my grandma’s name. I believe my grandmother was right there with open arms, saying, “Come home, baby. You shouldn’t feel this pain. No one should feel this pain.”
Quote Tupac — I mean Tupac, I’m sorry, y’all — “Changes”: “You see the old way wasn’t working, so it’s on us to do what we gotta do to survive.”
America, it is time for a change, even if it shall begin with more protest. No justice, no peace!
AMY GOODMAN: That’s George Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams. This is his brother, Philonise Floyd, who’s set to testify before Congress today on police accountability.
PHILONISE FLOYD: I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my brother a lot, because couldn’t believe it at first. But I see it now. All I think about is when he was yelling for Mama. And I know how Mama is. She’s just right there. She got her hands wide open: “Come here, baby.” Every mama felt that.
I want justice for my brother, my big brother. Everybody gonna remember him around the world. He’s going to change the world.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also spoke at the funeral in a recorded video after visiting Floyd’s family on Monday. He began by addressing George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna.
JOE BIDEN: I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many Black children have had to ask for generations: Why? Why is Daddy gone? And looking through your eyes, we should also be asking ourselves why the answer is so often too cruel and painful. Why in this nation do too many Black Americans wake up knowing that they could lose their life in the course of just living their life? Why does justice not roll like a river, or righteousness like a mighty stream? Why?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we can’t turn away. We must not turn away. 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.
AMY GOODMAN: During the funeral, Democratic Houston Congressmember Al Green called on lawmakers to support the Justice in Policing Act, introduced Monday by the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which would make it illegal for law enforcement to put a foot on someone’s neck. This is Congressman Green.
REP. AL GREEN: 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. We’re suffering invidious discrimination because we didn’t reconcile.
It’s time for a Department of Reconciliation in the highest land, the highest office. It’s time to have someone who is going to make it his or her business to seek reconciliation for Black people in the United States of America every day of his life. That’s what it is, is all about. It’s time for us to reconcile. We need a Department of Reconciliation.
AMY GOODMAN: As mourners at George Floyd’s funeral recalled how he made a difference, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner used his address at the funeral to announce he would be signing a new executive order.
MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER: And what that order will say is that in this city we will ban chokeholds and strangleholds. In this city, we will require deescalation. In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot. In this city, you have a duty to intervene. In this city, we will require comprehensive reporting. In this city, you must exhaust all alternatives before shooting.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaking Tuesday at George Floyd’s funeral in Houston.
When we come back, we look at the last two weeks of protest and the racist history of policing with the scholar Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Dray Tate singing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” Tuesday at the funeral for George Floyd in Houston, Texas. Behind him, an artist paints a photo of George Floyd.