The final farewell to George Floyd

They braved the sun and the heat to pay him a last tribute. Monday, June 8, thousands of residents of Houston (Texas) gathered in front of the coffin of Geroge Floyd. The tribute ceremony for the 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 when he was arrested by white police in Minneapolis was held at the Fountain of Praise Church. “Thank you all for coming to see my brother,” said Philonise Floyd in the afternoon to the crowd. “It hurts a lot to be here, it is hard and painful,” he added, sobbing.

Some in the crowd were wearing George Floyd t-shirts or were struck out with the phrase “I can’t breathe”, which he said during his agony. Others raised their fists when they arrived in front of the coffin where his remains lay. Pandemic obliges, the wearing of the mask was compulsory in the church and the visitors, whose temperature had been taken, had only a few seconds to meditate before leaving their place.

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“Special moment in history”

Joseph Qualls attended the same high school as George Floyd in the “Third Ward”. For him, his death is all the more painful because he admired it. “He was the first person I knew in my neighborhood to get a university scholarship,” said the 38-year-old hairdresser. Kelvin Sherrod, 41, insisted on coming with his wife and two boys, ages 8 and 9. The whole family wears a black t-shirt with the inscription “I can’t breathe”. The death of George Floyd affected his children, he says. “They told me ‘what happened, what did they do to the gentleman?'”.

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So it was “important to me to be here with them,” said the Houston resident. “This is a special moment in history and they will remember that they were part of it.” In the midst of this mourning, Kelvin Sherrod said he was nevertheless happy that so many people had come. “It brings us together, as a country, no matter what your skin color is.”

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Solidarity and unity

Candice, who also came to pay homage to George Floyd before his funeral on Tuesday, is also pleased to see “the country gathered” in a protest movement. “It is time for a change and we have to overcome oppression, police violence and racism,” she said.

In the crowd, mostly black, white Americans want to convey a message of solidarity and unity. Sarah Frazzell, 33, came with five of her friends and bouquets of flowers to “support the family of George Floyd and the black community”. The size of the crowd “shows America that there is a problem,” she said.

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The death of George Floyd is the latest in a long series in recent years of the deaths of mostly unarmed black men killed by police. Like Eric Garner, who was suffocated by a white agent in New York in 2014. “They started again, they took another life,” denounced his mother, Gwen Carr, invited by the Floyd family for the funeral. “This is why justice must be done to us”, she added, affirming that the “bad apples” must have left the ranks of the American police.

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