Hundreds of people, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and the mother of Eric Garner, are expected to attend a private memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon to honor George Floyd, the man whose death in police custody sparked nationwide protests on police brutality and racial injustice.
Sharpton, who will deliver the eulogy, said he plans to announce a new social movement at the memorial service and demand federal legislation be enacted to stop racial injustice by police departments around the country, according to the New York Times.
Crowds and media are expected to line the streets outside the chapel at North Central University in Minneapolis, since the service will only be open to friends, family and invitees of the Floyd family, according to the university’s website.
Quincy Mason, center, the son of George Floyd, Mason’s uncle Twain Mason, right, and family attorney Ben Crump kneel, Wednesday, June 3, 2020 as they visited the site of a memorial in Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested on May 25 and died while in police custody. Video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
“It just feels like I’m coming to my son’s funeral again,” Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, told the Times on Wednesday. “This young man was crying for his mother at the end. That was like my son echoing from the grave saying, ‘Mama, you’ve got to do something. They’re still killing us.’”
Garner, an unarmed black man, died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and recorded saying “I can’t breathe” – the same phrase that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and was repeated by Floyd before he died.
In the Garner case, family and activists pleaded for five years before the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was removed from the force in 2019, though he never faced federal charges.
Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd, listens to a news conference with Stephen Jackson, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minn.
A second memorial service in North Carolina, where Floyd was born, is scheduled for Saturday at the Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary in Raeford, outside of Fayetteville.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and other public figures and celebrities are expected to attend the third memorial service in Houston scheduled Tuesday at The Fountain of Praise, KABC-TV reported. Floyd attended high school in Houston and lived there for most of his life until moving to Minneapolis five years ago.
Senate Democrats came together at the Capitol Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall to hold a nine-minute moment of silence Thursday morning, the Washington Post reported. It signaled the nearly nine minutes former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded holding his knee to Floyd’s neck, as he pleaded for his life.
Minnesota’s Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday upgraded the charges against Chauvin to second-degree murder. The other three officers involved — Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng, and Tou Thao – were taken into custody Wednesday night and charged with two counts of aiding and abetting and second-degree murder. Chauvin, who still faces third-degree murder and manslaughter charges, was arrested last Friday. All four officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department on May 26, a day after Floyd’s death.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights filed civil rights charges against the Minneapolis Police Department and vowed to investigate any racial discriminatory practices or policies, Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday.
The Hennepin County medical examiner also announced Wednesday that Floyd posthumously tested positive for the coronavirus, without saying the virus played a role in his death. The pandemic, which has dominated news coverage for months as Americans were told to stay inside, has largely been swept to the background as the nation grieves Floyd and demands an end to systemic racism. The virus has also disproportionately affected members of the black community.
Social distancing measures are expected to be put in place for the hundreds of guests at the memorial service Thursday.
More than 10,000 people have been arrested nationwide in the civil unrest since Memorial Day, The Associated Press estimates.
As many cities enforced nightly curfews to clampdown on looting and limit out of towners from coming in to drum up chaos, police have clashed with protesters, firing rubber bullets and deploying tear gas to disperse crowds. Officers have also suffered violent attacks, most recently, as one New York City police officer on looting patrol was stabbed in the neck, and two others were shot in an “unprovoked attack” Wednesday night.
As businesses, already struggled from the pandemic, are looted, vandalized and burned to the ground, President Trump has clashed with top officials on whether to send the military into cities to restore the peace.