Biden says George Floyd ‘moved millions’ as thousands gather for funeral

‘When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice’

 Brooke Williams, niece of George Floyd, speaks with the rest of the family, during the funeral at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, Texas. Photograph: Godofredo A Vasquez

Brooke Williams, niece of George Floyd, speaks with the rest of the family, during the funeral at The Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, Texas. Photograph: Godofredo A Vasquez

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Thousands of mourners gathered in Houston on Tuesday to honour the memory of George Floyd, the 46-year-old African American whose death while being restrained by white police officers sparked anti-racism protests across the world.

In a pre-recorded message, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who travelled to Texas to meet the family privately on Monday, said that Mr Floyd had “moved millions to act peacefully and purposely”.

Addressing Mr Floyd’s daughter, he said that “no child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations – why, why is Daddy gone?”

He added: “When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”

Among those in attendance at the memorial service were family members of other African-American victims of police crime, such as Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead in Kentucky this year, and Eric Garner, whose death at the hands of an NYPD officer in 2014 galvanised the Black Lives Matter movement.

A police escort accompanied Mr Floyd’s cortege from the church to a graveyard where he was buried next to his late mother.

As the country bid its final goodbye to Mr Floyd, in Washington US president Donald Trump claimed in a tweet that the injury sustained by a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo last week may have been staged.

‘Reprehensible’ tweet

He also suggested that the injured man, who remains in hospital, was a member of Antifa, a designation used to denote a diffuse group of left-wing agitators. “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed ... could be a set-up?” he tweeted without evidence.

Two Buffalo police officers were fired and charged with assault after a video of the man being pushed and then lying in pool of blood was widely viewed on social media.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York state, where the incident happened, called on Mr Trump to apologise for his “reprehensible” tweet.

The debate about police reform continues to dominate discussion in the United States, as the rallying cry “defundthepolice” has gained traction among activists in recent days. It follows a pledge by a majority of the Minneapolis city council to disband the city’s police force in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death on May 25th.

Officials in other parts of the country have also pledged to cut funding for police and divert money into social services.

Police aggression

Mr Trump, who has cast himself as the president of law and order in recent days, retweeted a video clip of burning buildings in Minneapolis last week, saying: “Should have let police do their job and brought in National Guard on Day One, not Day Four!”

Further examples of apparent police aggression surfaced on Tuesday.

In Philadelphia, a police officer turned himself in after he was accused of assaulting a student last week during a protest in the city. His police union said it was “disgusted” with the charges against the officer, arguing that he was “engaged in a volatile and chaotic situation with only milliseconds to make a decision”.

As several polls in the last week have shown Mr Trump trailing Mr Biden, the president appeared to confirm media reports that he may begin holding campaign rallies as early as this month.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has shut wide swathes of America, has put a temporary pause on in-person campaigning, despite the 2020 election being less than five months away.

“BIG DEMAND! Starting up again soon, maybe next week!” Mr Trump tweeted, pointing to a social media post calling for rallies to recommence, particularly in light of the big numbers seen at recent anti-racism demonstrations.