Family, friends, and supporters of Black Lives Matter gathered at North Central University in Minneapolis today to honor George Floyd.
Attendees included the Rev. Al Sharpton, who gave a moving eulogy, Kevin Hart, Ludacris, Tiffany Haddish, T.I., the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Martin Luther King III, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Sharpton told the crowd, “I want us to not sit here and act like we had a funeral on the schedule. George Floyd should not be among the deceased. He did not die of common health conditions, he died of a common American criminal justice malfunction… If you wear blue jeans or a blue uniform, you must pay for the crime you commit.”
He also sent a message with an analogy. "One thing I heard about roaches is that if you keep the light off, if you’re in the dark, a roach will pull up to your dinner table and have a five-course meal," he said, "So, I learned that one of the ways to deal with roaches is that if you kept the light on, I could run those roaches and track them down — and I’ve spent all my life chasing roaches all over this country.”
Sharpton spoke passionately about injustice and oppression, insisting, “It is time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, 'Get your knee off our neck.'"
During the celebration of life, George’s family paid homage to him. His brother Philones recalled, “We did a lot of things together — talking with my mom, dancing with my mom, cooking with my mom… man, so much.”
He added, “It is so crazy, man. All these people came to see my brother. That’s amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts, because he’s been touching all of us… Everyone wants justice. We want justice for George. He’s going to get it.”
Floyd’s youngest brother Rodney said George would appreciate the outpouring of love, adding, “He would stand up for his family and friends, and I want everyone to know he would stand up for injustice for everyone.”
The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, gave a speech about justice. Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."
Crump added, in his own words, “America, we proclaim, as we memorialize George Floyd: Do not cooperate with evil, protest against evil, join the young people in the streets, protest against the inhumane, the torture that we witnessed on that video… George Floyd deserved better than that, we all deserve better than that.”
Other memorials are planned as well, including one at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET on Saturday in North Carolina, and a funeral at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET on Tuesday in his hometown of Houston.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died last Monday shortly after being arrested for a non-violent act in Minneapolis. Video of the arrest shows white police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck as Floyd says he can’t breathe and pleads for help. Chauvin and the other three officers involved have been fired, arrested, and are facing charges in Floyd's death.
His death has sparked outrage around the world, and many have stepped up to protest in support of Black Lives Matter.