The Latest: George Floyd’s casket taken inside mausoleum
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Portland mayor to redirect $7 million from police budget to other areas.
— National Guard members at Washington protests test positive for coronavirus.
HOUSTON — George Floyd was fondly remembered Tuesday as “Big Floyd” — a father and brother, athlete and neighborhood mentor, and now a catalyst for change — at a funeral for the black man whose death has sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice.
More than 500 mourners wearing masks to combat the coronavirus packed a Houston church a little more than two weeks after Floyd was pinned to the pavement by a white Minneapolis police officer who put a knee on his neck for what prosecutors said was 8 minutes, 46 seconds.
Cellphone video of the encounter, including Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe,” ignited protests and scattered violence across the U.S. and around the world, turning the 46-year-old Floyd — a man who in life was little known beyond the public housing project where he was raised in Houston’s Third Ward — into a worldwide symbol of injustice.
The funeral capped six days of mourning for Floyd in three cities: Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born; Houston, where he grew up; and Minneapolis, where he died. The memorials have drawn the families of other black victims whose names have become familiar in the debate over race and justice — among them, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.
After the service, Floyd’s golden casket was taken by hearse to the cemetery in the Houston suburb of Pearland to be entombed next to his mother, for whom he cried out as he lay dying. A mile from the graveyard, the casket was transferred to a glass-sided carriage drawn by a pair of white horses. A brass band played as his casket was taken inside the mausoleum.
Hundreds of people, some chanting, “Say his name, George Floyd,” gathered along the procession route and outside the cemetery entrance in the mid-90s heat.
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A corrections officer who participated in a counterprotest to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in New Jersey in which people reenacted the death of George Floyd was suspended after the video was widely shared on social media.
In the video, protesters march along a street Monday in Franklin Township, Gloucester County, chanting “George Floyd!” and “Black Lives Matter!” The video shows they are being escorted by local police.
They pass a private property filled with firewood for sale. Video filmed by someone marching shows a man kneeling on the neck of another man shouting unintelligibly back at protesters. Protesters shout back.
Two more men are standing nearby and one of them is filming on a cellphone. The group is standing on the roadside in front of a pickup truck outfitted with an American flag and a Trump banner. Several others are nearby. An “All Lives Matter” sign is also hanging.
Another truck shows the “thin blue line” flag, meant to show support for law enforcement workers.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state lawmakers have repealed a decades-old law that kept law enforcement officers’ disciplinary records secret, spurred by the national uproar over the death of George Floyd.
The measure to make officers’ records and misconduct complaints public is among several police accountability bills racing through the state legislature. Lawmakers passed other bills that would provide all state troopers with body cameras and ensure that police officers provide medical and mental health attention to people in custody.
Many of those bills were first proposed years ago, but got new momentum after huge protests nationwide condemned police brutality.
The passage came as criminal charges were brought Tuesday against an NYPD officer over his rough treatment of a protester during demonstrations following the death of Floyd, who pleaded he couldn’t breathe as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck May 25.
Eliminating the law, known as Section 50-a, would make complaints against officers, as well as transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings, public for the first time in decades.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has recently supported reforming the law, has said in the wake of the protests that he will sign the repeal. Only Delaware has a similar law.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration appears to be backing away from its commitment to quickly remove most of a new fence from in front of the White House.
National Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming says the Park Police are “in continuing discussions” with the Secret Service about the tall new barricade.
Officials abruptly put up the fence last week to block demonstrators from Lafayette Square outside the White House. The move barred the public from what has historically been one of the nation’s leading spots for advocating causes.
Liming’s statement Tuesday is a change from earlier in the week. She had said officials would remove “most” of the fence at Lafayette Square on Wednesday.
Liming now says only that fencing elsewhere, on the south side of the White House, will be removed “on or about” Wednesday.
She did not immediately respond to a question about why the Park Service appears to be backing away from its commitment to remove most of the Lafayette Square fence Wednesday.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Tuesday he will make policing changes that include ending the use of patrol officers on public transit and redirecting $7 million from the police budget to other areas.
Wheeler said in a news conference he also plans to dissolve the police gun violence reduction unit, ban chokeholds and reform the use of consent searches in traffic stops. He said bold action is necessary in the wake of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Wheeler said officers will be pulled from public transit by the end of the year and a more trusted police accountability panel will be created. The current Independent Police Review committee is under the city auditor’s office.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The city council for the Canadian city of Halifax has voted in favor of rescinding the purchase of a police armored vehicle and will instead allocate the money to efforts aimed at reducing racism.
Councilman Shawn Cleary says the decision reflects a shift in viewpoints driven in part by the public demonstrations against police racism occurring throughout North America. His motion shifts $223,000 ($300,000 Canadian) to support a variety of anti-racism initiatives. Another $66,300 ($89,500 Canadian) will go toward programs for diversity, inclusion and public safety.
FORT WORTH, Texas — Officials in two North Texas counties have voted to remove Confederate monuments from courthouse grounds.
Commissioners of Tarrant and Denton counties voted Tuesday to remove the monuments, which were erected last century by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Tarrant commissioners voted 4-0 with one abstention for removal. Commissioner Roy Brooks proposed the removal, saying he “would argue that it’s not a memorial at all, rather that it was erected in 1953 as a reminder to the black citizens of this county and of this state that the rules of Jim Crow were still in effect.”
The Denton County monument was erected in 1918.
Commissioners of both counties said their actions were taken to promote racial harmony amid protests of the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Both counties said their monuments would be placed in storage until alternate sites could be found.
PHOENIX -- Police Chief Jeri Williams announced Tuesday that the Phoenix Police Department will immediately suspend training and use of the chokehold.
Williams, who is black, says the department can’t function “without the trust of our community, and there are adjustments we can make to strengthen that trust.”
Williams says her organization is willing to learn and evolve, listen to the community and become better, and she says she’s confident the change in policy moves it closer to that goal.
TROY, Ala. —Troy University has fired its campus police chief over comments he made on social media about the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins says in a statement released on the school’s social media accounts that statements by John McCall didn’t reflect the university’s values. He says officials lost confidence in McCall’s ability to lead the Police Department.
News outlets report that McCall wrote in a Facebook post that Floyd “absolutely” helped cause his own death.
One former Minneapolis police officer is charged with murder in Floyd’s death and three others are charged with aiding in his death.
DENVER — A sweeping police accountability bill introduced amid protests over the death of George Floyd has passed the Colorado state Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Senators from both parties spoke at length on Tuesday about the compromises that went into the bill before backing it in a 32-1 vote.
The bill was changed in response to some issues raised by law enforcement. It would allow police officers to be sued for misconduct by getting rid of the qualified immunity defense that generally protects government workers from lawsuits. It also requires all local and Colorado State Patrol officers to be equipped with body cameras by July 2023.
HOUSTON — The funeral of George Floyd has ended, and his casket is on its way to a Texas cemetery for burial.
After emotional tributes from Floyd’s family, a song from Ne-Yo, a recorded message from Joe Biden and a eulogy from the Rev. Al Sharpton, Floyd’s golden casket was carried on the shoulders of pall bearers out of Fountain of Praise church in Houston.
Many in the family section of the church held out their hands in the direction of the casket as it departed, as the hymn “I Shall Wear a Crown” rang through the church. Others held up their phones to film it.
The more than 500 face-masked mourners in the congregation for the four-hour service included actors Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, and NFL star J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.
WASHINGTON — Members of the D.C. National Guard have tested positive for COVID-19 in the wake of the massive protests across the city last week over the death of George Floyd.
Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Brooke Davis says they will not release the exact number of infected troops.
But U.S. officials say they believe it is not a large number, at least so far. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information publicly.
While some Guard troops responding to the protests wore protective equipment, most were not wearing masks and it was largely impossible to maintain any social distancing.
Davis said in a statement that unit commanders were responsible for ensuring their troops adhered to guidelines calling for Guard members to wear protective equipment and maintain social distancing where practical.
Officials said about 5,000 Guard members, including troops from 11 states, were in the nation’s capital for the protests.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A main thoroughfare in Charlotte was painted with bright colors Tuesday morning as dozens of volunteers and artists traced 16 large letters spelling out “Black Lives Matter.”
Charlotte follows Washington, D.C. and other American cities calling for an end to police brutality and racial injustice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Charlotte resident D’ann Redd said she never thought she’d see something like the mural in her southern city. She said it was good to see the community join together and say black lives matter in a very public way and to have people connected.
The project was approved by the City of Charlotte.
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council declined calls to cut police funding and has approved a city budget that includes an increase for the department.
The decision came at a meeting Monday in which the majority of some 400 callers and emails from more than 4,000 people urged rejection of the mayor’s plan to increase the police budget by $27 million to $566 million.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the council approved the budget plan on an 8-1 vote.
The pressure to cut the police budget echoed calls nationwide for defunding or cutting law enforcement budgets in protest of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
PEARLAND, Texas -- People were allowed to walk up to the mausoleum in suburban Houston where George Floyd’s body was set to be entombed.
Some people took photos Tuesday as they got a closer look at the site in the cemetery in Pearland, Texas. Floyd’s funeral was ongoing at a church in Houston, where he lived most of his life.
A private service at the cemetery was set to be held for Floyd’s family after his casket arrives. Inside the mausoleum, a small podium was set up along with 24 chairs in three rows. Outside the mausoleum in the back, another 42 chairs were set up underneath a tent.
HOUSTON — Pastor Steve Wells told mourners at George Floyd’s funeral that they have “awakened the conscience of a nation.”
Wells thanked the audience at the predominantly black Fountain of Praise church in Houston on Tuesday for inviting him, a white speaker, to address them.
He drew laughs and shouts when he said they might have to be forgiven for leaving white people off the program and drew a standing ovation when he said predominantly white churches like his must act now, that their conscience has been stirred, to end the racism he says killed Floyd.
Another pastor, Ralph Douglas West Sr., compared Floyd to Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, saying all three were born in obscurity but went on to change the world.
ROME — Dozens of young Catholics gathered at nightfall on a small island in the Tiber River in Rome to pray for peaceful co-existence in the United States.
Then, clutching lit candles, participants knelt on one knee in the tiny cobblestone square outside St. Bartholomew’s Basilica during several minutes of silence Tuesday evening as George Floyd’s funeral was taking place in Houston.
The brief commemoration, called to stress the need to combat all forms of racism, social discrimination and violence, was organized by Young People for Peace. The youth movement has ties to a Rome-based Catholic organization with close relations with the Vatican.
HOUSTON — Grammy-winning singer Ne-Yo said George Floyd’s death was a sacrifice that “changed the world” before performing during his memorial service.
Ne-Yo shed tears on Tuesday while singing a rendition of G.C. Cameron’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” The singer paused on a few occasions to collect himself during his performance.
“Fifty states are protesting at the same time,” he said. “This man changed the world. He changed the world for the better. I would like to personally thank George Floyd for his sacrifice, so that my kids could be all right later on. I appreciate the sacrifice. I genuinely do.”
HOUSTON -- The family of George Floyd gave him tearful tributes and made impassioned demands for justice at his funeral.
The group of family members and close friends gathered around the podium at Fountain of Praise church in Houston and stepped up one at a time to talk about about their lost loved one.
Aunt Kathleen McGee laughed as she remembered the child family knew as Perry Jr., calling him a “pesky little rascal, but we loved him.”
Sister LaTonya Floyd was almost too overwhelmed to talk, wiping away tears and lowering her face mask to say “I’m going to miss my brother a whole lot and I love you. And I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”
Brooke Williams, a niece of Floyd, called for change to what she called “a corrupt and broken system.”
Two brothers and a close friend also spoke to mourn Floyd, whose death last month after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on his neck for over eight minutes has inspired worldwide protests.