Ceremonies in Minneapolis and New York in honor of George Floyd



by Brendan O’Brien

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – Several hundred people took part in a ceremony in Minneapolis on Thursday in honor of George Floyd, the black man whose death after his arrest by police sparked widespread protests peppered with violence and stirred up debate over race issues in the United States.

“Everyone wants justice, we want justice for George, he’s going to get it,” Philonise Floyd, one of George Floyd’s brothers, said at the service in a chapel.

“It’s crazy, all these people came for my brother, it’s amazing that he touched so many hearts,” added Philonise Floyd, dressed in black and sporting a badge with a picture of her brother and of the inscription “I cannot breathe”.

George Floyd repeated this phrase several times, while searching for air, as a policeman rested his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes before his death on May 25. Images of the arrest of the 46-year-old, which quickly spread across the United States, sparked anger against American police accused of racism and brutality against the African-American community.

Crowds of Americans defied curfews and demonstrated in many cities across the United States for nine consecutive evenings, accompanied by riots and looting on the fringes of these peaceful gatherings, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten to send the army to put an end to this violence.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Floyd family, said during the ceremony on Thursday that the methods employed by the police in arresting George Floyd were evil itself.

“What we saw in this video is evil. So America, as we salute the memory of George Floyd, reject evil. Protest against evil. We cannot cooperate with evil. We cannot. not cooperate with torture, ”he said.


Derek Chauvin, the 44-year-old police officer filmed applying his knee to George Floyd’s neck, has been kicked out of police and charged with murder.

The three police officers who accompanied him, also sacked, were charged with complicity. They appeared for the first time Thursday before a court which set their bond at one million dollars, likely to be lowered to 750,000 dollars under certain conditions, including the confiscation of all their personal weapons.

In New York, thousands of people also attended a ceremony in honor of George Floyd in a park in Brooklyn.

Many knelt on the lawn, in what has become a gesture of protest against police violence, chanting “No justice, no peace”.

US Justice Minister William Barr said Thursday, without providing details, that foreign interests and “extremist agitators” affiliated with leftist movements like the Antifa (anti-fascists) were taking control of the protests.

Civil rights activist and television personality Reverend Al Sharpton, for his part, told the ceremony in Minneapolis that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful.

“There have been protests around the world. Some have looted and done other things. None of us condone that, looting and violence,” Al Sharpton said. “But there is a difference between those who call for peace and those who call for calm. Some of you all don’t want peace, you just want calm. You just want us to continue to suffer in silence.”

The George Floyd tribute ceremonies are scheduled to last six days with a funeral scheduled for Tuesday.

(Brendan O’Brien, Michelle Nichols, Nathan Layne, Peter Szekely et Andrew Hay; version française Bertrand Boucey)


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