Family, friends, state officials, and celebrities gathered at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis for a moving memorial service for George Floyd. The June 4 service was at once a rallying cry for justice, as well as an opportunity for healing and personal reflections about the man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day has rocked the nation.
The family shared humorous stories of their humble beginnings and lovingly remembered Floyd. Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network organized the service, gave a searing eulogy. “What happened to Floyd,” said Sharpton, “happens every day in this country in education, in health care, and in every area of American life. It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!'”
Perhaps the most memorable part of the service came when Sharpton asked everyone to stand for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time of the video that showed former police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Many stood wiping away tears as music played softly and cameras clicked in the background for what seemed like an eternity, effectively bringing home the agony of Floyd’s final moments.
They had enough time to correct their behavior, Sharpton said of the officers involved, three of whom sat in Hennepin County jail not far from where the service was held. He then asked, “What will we do with the time we have?”
The answer to that question was found right outside the North Central chapel—and many cities across the nation—as protesters continued to take to the streets and demand justice for Floyd, as well as police reforms to root out systemic racism and brutality.
The Minneapolis memorial was the first of three memorials for Floyd. Another service will take place on Saturday, June 6 in North Carolina where he was born. Floyd’s funeral and burial will take place in Houston, Texas, on June 9 where he grew up and spent most of his childhood. A public viewing will take place a day before.
Watch video of the service below from PBS News Hour. See photos above from Steve Floyd/MSR News.