Hundreds of people lined up outside a conference center in Raeford, North Carolina on Saturday to attend a memorial service for George Floyd.
When Floyd’s golden chest rolled into the Raeford building – just outside of Fayetteville, where Floyd was born – the crowd in the neighborhood reportedly shouted, “Black power! George Floyd! ‘
For hours, the audience walked through the center – socially distant, masked, and 10 at a time – to view Floyd’s body. Later that day, at 3:00 p.m. ET, a family service was held, which was also broadcast online and open to all.
Outside of the conference building, people continued to honor Floyd by lining the streets with flowers and plates as the service progressed. North Carolina government Roy Cooper has paid his respects by lowering the flags on state facilities to half staff for the day. And some mourners even came from out of town, like Gregg Packer, who took an overnight train from Long Island to attend the monument, the News & Observer reported.
“I felt I had to come here to support George Floyd’s protests and family,” he told News & Observer. “I hope we can all get along, that we can treat each other the way we all should.”
The service was held for about 125 people in a room with a painting of Floyd with a halo and angel wings. Relatives, friends and state officials gathered to celebrate not only the life of George Floyd, but also to condemn the police brutality that led to his death.
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin criticized his colleagues for abusing their power: “We, as law enforcement officers, do not have the power to bully, push and kill people because we have a badge and a weapon,” he said.
Peterkin added, “I don’t care how much you march with the groups, get on your knees and play with the kids. It doesn’t mean anything if you can’t say these six words, “We’re part of the problem. ”
U.S. representative G.K. Butterfield also spoke to guests to announce that Congressional Black Caucus will unveil a legislative response to police brutality against black people on Wednesday with the aim of preparing a polling station by the end of June.
The service is the second of three planned. The first was held Thursday in Minneapolis, where Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a moving eulogy:
“The reason we could never be who we wanted and what we dreamed of is because you kept your knee on our neck,” Sharpton said, addressing the nation. “It’s time we got up in the name of George and said, take your knee off our neck.”
On Monday, another memorial service will be held in Houston, where Floyd grew up and lived most of his life.
Protesters – both in the U.S. and worldwide – continue to mourn the death of George Floyd
The memorial came amid major protests across the U.S., many of which were peaceful after curfews ended in cities across the country.
On Saturday, thousands gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital before marching to the White House:
The protest is expected to become one of the largest in the city’s history, with hundreds of thousands expected.
Protesters also continued to gather in Minneapolis, where Floyd was murdered. On Friday, more than a thousand people gathered at Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office demanding that he review all recent police shootings, reported the Star Tribune. More protests are planned there on Saturday.
Thousands marched in Philadelphia at the same time that Floyd’s memorial service was being held in North Carolina. The protests were peaceful when they shouted their demands of racial justice and austerity to the police, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“If you keep silent now, you’re part of the problem,” demonstrator Kolby Kent Nelson told the publication.
Thousands also took part in demonstrations Chicago, phoenix, Orlando, and dozens of other towns and villages in the United States. And protests were also held in several countries, including Germany, France, Japan, Iran and Zimbabwe.
In London, tens of thousands of people appeared in Parliament Square to walk to the U.S. Embassy on Saturday afternoon, despite a pandemic-related order that banned more than six people from different households from gathering outside. The crowd knelt silently in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement for one minute, according to the New York Times.
Demonstrations in Australia also attracted thousands of people protesting police brutality against indigenous Australians. Protesters sang, “I can’t breathe” – the dying words of both George Floyd and David Dungay Jr, a native Australian who died in custody in 2015.
Hundreds also gathered in Paris, although authorities banned protests outside the U.S. Embassy. Fearless, protesters gathered in a public square near the embassy and held up their Black Lives Matter signs, Reuters reported.
While the protests are getting calmer than when they first started two weeks ago, they continue to grow and show no signs of stopping – a sign that recent US police killings have become a call to action for people around the world.