Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, died May 25 after a police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd lay handcuffed on the pavement, saying that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder.
Those gathered at the Minneapolis tribute stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds—the amount of time Floyd was alleged to be on the ground under the control of police.
In addition to hundreds who gathered inside the North Central University chapel, a crowd of hundreds more clustered outside under trees and in window sills, listening to the service broadcast over loudspeakers.
The service drew the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and other members of Congress, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson Lee and Ayanna Pressley. Among the celebrities in attendance were T.I., Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Marsai Martin.
The casket was covered in red roses, and a vibrant image was projected above the pulpit of a mural of Floyd painted at the street corner where he was arrested by police on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. The message on the mural: “I can breathe now.”
The sanctuary normally seats 1,000, but because of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak, the capacity was reduced to about 500, and many attendees to the memorial service wore masks, some with “I can’t breathe” on them.
Outside, hundreds chanted Floyd’s name as a hearse prepared to carry him away.
His body goes next to Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born, for a public viewing and private family service on Saturday. A public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life.
Largely peaceful protests since Floyd’s death took place in communities of all sizes across the United States, 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.
But relative quiet prevailed for a third straight night Thursday, a day after prosecutors charged the three other officers at the scene and filed a new, more serious count of murder against Chauvin.
In New York City, a large crowd gathered at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza and chanted “You are not alone” in a rally with one of George Floyd’s brothers.
“I thank God for you all showing love to my brother,” said an emotional Terrence Floyd.
Peaceful demonstrations continued past the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to deflect criticism over harsh tactics from police enforcing the curfew the night before. While there was a heavy police presence on the streets, they did not immediately move in to make arrests.
In Washington, the law enforcement presence was much lighter compared to the previous night, and thousands of people marched peacefully from near the White House to the Lincoln Memorial. Police cleared the largely empty streets of cars just ahead of the demonstrators’ path. The protests broke up before dark as a heavy rain began.
Nationwide, more than 10,000 people have been arrested in relation to protests following Floyd’s death, an Associated Press tally found. More than a dozen deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.
By Aaron Morrison and Tim Sullivan
NTD staff, Associated Press journalists, and Reuters contributed to this report.