Actors, musicians, and politicians gathered before the cameras in front of George Floyd’s golden casket at a memorial in Minneapolis on Thursday. George Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the country, and as usual, Sharpton wasted no time placing himself front-and-center of this racial controversy.
Floyd, a 46-year-old out-of-work bouncer, died on May 25th when a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground, gasping that he couldn’t breathe. Derek Chauvin has since been charged with murder, and the other officers with him face up to 40 years in prison.
This service (which is the first in a series of memorials set for three cities over six days) took place in a sanctuary at North Central University as a judge a few blocks away set bail at $750,000 each for the three fired Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.
“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck,” Rev. Al Sharpton said in his eulogy. “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”
Sharpton vowed this will become a movement to “change the whole system of justice.”
“Time is out for not holding you accountable! Time is out for you making excuses! Time is out for you trying to stall! Time is out for empty words and empty promises! Time is out for you filibustering and trying to stall the arm of justice!” Sharpton yelled.
The Memorial was also attended by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and members of Congress, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson-Lee and Ayana Pressley. Among the celebrities in attendance were T.I., Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Marsai Martin.
After the Minneapolis Memorial, Floyd’s body will go to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born, for a public viewing and private family service on Saturday.
Next, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. Then a 500-person service will take place Tuesday at the Fountain of Praise church.