HOUSTON (Xinhua) — As a final farewell, family members and friends gathered on Tuesday at a private funeral in Houston, Texas and shared their sweet memories of 46-year-old African American George Floyd, who was suffocated to death in police custody two weeks ago.
Floyd’s niece Brooke Williams touched the audience’s hearts with her emotional speech, appealing for “no more hate crimes.”
She said she saw no remorse in the white police officer when he pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, “watching my uncle’s soul leave his body.”
“This is not just a murder, but a hate crime,” she added.
A short film was played at the funeral, showing a montage of Floyd’s photos depicting his life and also the protests around the world following his death.
Though the funeral was meant to be a private event mainly for Floyd’s family members, friends and school mates in Houston where he grew up and spent most of his lifetime, half of the 500 guests were public figures who came to pay their respects.
“We honor him because when he took his last breath, the rest of us are now able to breathe,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, declaring June 9 as “George Floyd Day” in the city.
In a pre-recorded video broadcast at the funeral, former Vice President Joe Biden sent condolences to Floyd’s family whom he met before the funeral.
Talking about racial equality in the country, Biden said, “Why in this nation do too many black Americans wake up knowing they could lose their life in the course of just living their life?… When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”
The funeral was held at the Fountain of Praise Church, where Floyd and his family used to worship when he lived in the city.
Due to social distancing requirements, only about 500 guests attended the funeral. But people from the city and other places gathered around the church in the heat prior to the funeral to pay respect to Floyd.
After the funeral, Floyd’s golden casket was transported in a car and then in a white horse-drawn carriage to a Houston cemetery where he was buried next to his mother.
The family requested total privacy when they lay Floyd to rest.
Along the way from the church to the burial site, hundreds of people waited to say farewell to Floyd. Many road railings were decorated with ribbons and flowers.
A public viewing for Floyd was organized on Monday at the same African American church in Houston, bringing more than 6,300 people to pay tribute.
Last week, two memorials were held in Minneapolis, Minnesota where Floyd died, and Raeford, North Carolina where Floyd was born.
Hundreds of people paid their tribute to Floyd by laying wreaths at the memorials.
Floyd moved from North Carolina to Houston’s Third Ward community as a baby, and grew up and spent most of his lifetime in the fourth largest U.S. city which he called “home.”
Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the United States after a video went viral of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.
Since Floyd’s death, Houstonians have remembered him in various ways in his community where the grief can still be felt.
Last week, a “big Floyd” mural was painted on the wall in the Third Ward by a local artist. People of all colors came to pay tribute, sending flowers, cards and balloons.
“I feel like I’m coming by to pay my respect,” Eryka Gomez told local TV KPRC 2. “It’s sad. It’s a loss for the community.”
Also in Houston, a big sign painted with his name was seen at a busy intersection of highways. Video clips from the Internet showed that a big sign written with the words “George Floyd” replaced an old iconic sign of “Be Someone.”