Between tears, political slogans: the funeral of George Floyd, in a Texas church on Tuesday, mixed tributes to this black man killed by a white police officer and fiery calls to attack, finally, the racism that “hurts the “soul” of America.
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Pastor Mia Wright of Fountain of Praise Church in Houston immediately set the tone for the funeral, which was broadcast live in millions of homes: “We may cry, grieve, but we will find comfort and hope! “
In the first register, relatives of George Floyd greeted “Big George”, their “superman”, their “gentle giant” whose stature – almost two meters – did not prevent a police officer from the suffocate, kneeling for almost nine minutes on his neck, a fortnight ago in Minneapolis, in the north of the country where he had left to live a few years ago.
- Listen to the interview of American political columnist Luc Laliberté with Jonathan Trudeau at QUB Radio:
“You are forced to grieve in public, it is difficult,” Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden told them in an intimate video released during the ceremony. But for him, “the time for racial justice has come.”
“We can no longer turn away from the racism that hurts our souls,” added the former vice president of Barack Obama, who enjoys great popularity among black voters.
Several elected Democrats, including the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, who announced a reform of the city’s police, spoke at the podium, but it was George Floyd’s young niece who ventured the furthest on the political field.
“Some say he wants to make America great,” said Brooke Williams, referring to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. “But when was America big?” She asked, denouncing “racial hatred” in the United States.
The Republican president did not have a word Tuesday for George Floyd or the victims of racist violence. On the contrary, in a tweet, he questioned the credibility of a 75-year-old man recently pushed by the police during a demonstration.
“Clean the White House”
The ordeal of George Floyd, whose video has gone viral, has sparked unprecedented mobilization in the United States since the civil rights struggle in the 1960s.
Called “Black Lives matter”, calls to reform the police and fight racial inequality have reached the world.
But Donald Trump, who will run for a second term in November, camped on a speech of firmness.
“The first thing we need to do is clean up the White House,” concluded Reverend Bill Lawson with applause from the church, calling on the Americans to “vote.”
Interspersed with gospel songs, the funeral also saw an artist draw the face of George Floyd in white line, on a black canvas.
The first white figure to speak, Pastor Steve Wells called out to his community: “We are better than before, but we are not as good as we should be and that is not enough.”
” Mum ”
At the end of the ceremony, George Floyd is to be buried alongside his mother Larcenia, who died in 2018, whose nickname “Cissy” was tattooed on the chest. During his ordeal, he had begged the police officer Derek Chauvin to release him by imploring “mom”.
Having become the face of police brutality, the 44-year-old agent appeared on video for the first time on Monday. At the hearing, the judge set a release bail amount of $ 1 million, subject to certain conditions.
It took four days for him to be arrested and charged, first with manslaughter. His three colleagues involved in the tragedy were not then worried.
This apparent leniency of justice had stirred anger and, by the last weekend of May, the demonstrations had degenerated into violence, with clashes and nightly looting in several cities of the country.
Curfews and the deployment of National Guard soldiers gradually restored calm. At the same time, the charges against Derek Chauvin were reclassified as “murder”, a crime punishable by 40 years in prison, and his three colleagues were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting.
But the protests continue: tens of thousands of people, black and white, again marched quietly this weekend demanding for substantive law enforcement reforms.