Thousands queue to see golden casket to pay respects

Thousands of mourners have queued in the blazing Texan sun to pay their last respects to George Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minneapolis.

On Monday, the public was given a six-hour window to say goodbye to Mr Floyd at a church in Houston.

His gold casket was left open so people could see the man whose death has sparked protests worldwide. He was dressed in a brown suit.

Behind the casket were murals of Mr Floyd wearing a cap saying “Houston” and with angel wings.

The service drew the families of black victims in other high-profile killings whose names have become seared in America’s conversation over race – among them Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.

“It just hurts,” said Philonise Floyd, Mr Floyd’s brother, sobbing as he ticked off some of their names outside The Fountain of Praise church. “We will get justice. We will get it. We will not let this door close.”

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Mr Floyd grew up in the Texan city and was well known, spending much of his life there.

Texas’ governor, Houston’s mayor and the police chief were part of the 6000-strong crowd. The Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, actor Kevin Hart and rappers Master P and Ludacris also attended.

The huge crowds had to observe social distancing rules in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with only 15 mourners wearing masks allowed inside the church at once. They had a maximum of 10 minutes to pay their respects.

Many of those attending wore clothes emblazoned with the words “I can’t breathe,” the last words uttered by Mr Floyd as he was pinned to the ground.

In Los Angeles, a symbolic funeral process long one of the city’s freeways was organised to mark Mr Floyd’s passing.

Comill Adams said she drove more than seven hours from Oklahoma City with her family, including two children.

“We had been watching the protests on TV. We’ve been at home feeling outraged. At times it brought us to tears,” Ms Adams said.

“The fact this one is causing change, we had to come be a part of it.”

Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, was among the first to view the casket. He wore a striped gold and crimson tie, the colours of Mr Floyd’s Houston high school, where he was a standout football player.

“George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States.

“George Floyd has not died in vain. His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas respond to this tragedy,” Mr Abbott said.

Mr Floyd’s funeral will be held on Tuesday, followed by burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in suburban Pearland, where he will be laid to rest next to his mother Larcenia Floyd.

– with AP

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