Gospel songs from the church at North Central University in Minneapolis came from loud speakers installed on the roof of an administrative building next door. And the woman was dancing alone in the middle of the institution’s football and soccer field. Summarily dressed. Masked. But a bit like in a trance.
“Love”. This is the name she gave herself, unable to answer more questions, because obviously too overwhelmed by emotions. Or maybe madness. “I am them. I am everything, “she managed to add, before resuming her undulating movements, to the sound of the religious songs which had just opened the memorial service held in the city held for George Floyd, Thursday afternoon.
The 46-year-old man lost his life on May 25 during an arrest led by ordinary violence from the city’s police department. A knee placed too hard on his neck put an abrupt end to his existence, took the father from a little girl of 6 years old, and ignited the country, where, from one end to the other, for more than a week , thousands of people gathered to yell: enough!
His family was there on Thursday to pay him a first last tribute in the city where he was “assassinated by the state,” said Reverend Al Sharpton, a strong figure in the American civil rights movement and noted speaker at the ceremony. . At the same time, a religious service was held in Raeford, North Carolina, where the victim was born. Tears and anger will move for the last time in Houston, Texas on Sunday. He lived there just before landing in Minnesota. This is where he will be buried. But not forgotten.
Reforms, peace, equality are needed
“George Floyd is not just one victim of police abuse among others,” admitted Sidresah Floyd – unrelated – met near the church where hundreds of people gathered on Thursday noon to listen to what seemed to touch them from afar. Never has the death of an African-American at the hands of the police given birth to such a strong movement, had united a whole country to denounce these abuses. “
In the United States today, a dead man and a divided living being, according to General James Mattis, former United States Secretary of Defense, who dealt the United States President a blow the previous day. In 650 words published in The Atlantic. “Donald Trump is the first president in my life who does not try to unite the American people and does not even pretend to try to do so,” he wrote. Instead, it seeks to divide us. “
“We must reject and hold accountable those in power who mock our Constitution,” he added.
In the university church, Al Sharpton, was a little more indignant indignation, inviting the masked and distant audience according to the new rules in force, to “do not sit while acting as if [elle avait] a scheduled funeral, “he said. Governor Tim Walz and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota heard it. They were there. Like actor Kevin Hart, rapper Master P. and Martin Luther King III, the iconic son of this ongoing fight.
” [George Floyd] died because there was no change in behavior taught in this country, to understand that if you commit a crime, no matter whether you wear blue jeans or a blue uniform, you have to pay for the crime that you committed. “
Earlier, Philonise Floyd had spoken to tell of her brother, another American who had been wiped out of his universal banality by systemic racism. He remembered their childhood, video games, ball games, their dances with their mother, and the happiness they all had cooking together. As if to ward off for a moment the dehumanization which, by making his brother disappear, justified his presence at the microphone.
“Everywhere we went, you see, people clung to him,” he said. “They all wanted to be with him. George, he was like a general. He went out and everyone wanted to greet him, wanted to have fun with him, […], because when you spoke with George, you felt like you were the president. “
Atwood Cocker doesn’t dream of being president, but just wants to have the same rights as everyone else, nothing more. That’s what he said, walking to the church. He has lived in Minneapolis for 40 years. He wanted to see “this huge gathering for George Floyd and pay tribute to this man who did not deserve to die,” he said.
“We have the worst police in this city in the whole country,” he added, racist and violent. It has to stop. Now. With this police force, it is “kill and serve”, not “protect and serve”.
The death of George Floyd, he would like to see it as a turning point in the struggle which has sought for several decades to root African-Americans out of a condition rooted in exploitation, contempt and 400 years of history. But he uses the verb “to hope” to say it.
“This inflection point should have been reached a long time ago,” added Ashar Kambrough, a young thirties, black, tattooed, confident, met at the end of the memorial service. His girlfriend films him while he answers. Maybe to put on Tik Tok.
“We shouldn’t have collectively gone that far. The rest must change its narrative. Reforms, peace, equality, access to wealth and the same opportunities for everyone are needed, whether young, old, white, black. Without distinction. Everyone on the same path. “
Inside the church, Al Sharpton had just forced a silence of 8 minutes and 43 seconds to think about the death of George Floyd, yes, but also how to make sense of it to stop pushing back the actions to make the United States better. This is what he said in essence. 8 minutes and 43 seconds, the length of the restraint under the weight of three police officers – the fourth observed the scene without flinching – which was fatal to him in “Big Floyd”, as his friends called it.
“Take your knee off our neck,” said Al Sharpton forcefully, calling for an end to this unfair treatment, restraint and humiliation of African Americans. “We are not just asking for favor, that you stop sitting on us and finally let us be who we are.” “
This report was funded with the support of the Transat-Le Devoir International Journalism Fund.