Monday. 17.06.2024

Hundreds of mourners gathered on Tuesday for the funeral of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man whose death at the hands of white police officers sparked a nationwide movement for reforms.

Among those attending the invitation-only event at a church in Houston, Texas, were celebrities and politicians, as well as the families of several other black people who died during interactions with the police in cities around the country.

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton tore into President Donald Trump during a eulogy, while denouncing racism as an "institutional systemic problem" that harkens back to slavery.

"You sitting, trying to figure out how you gonna stop the protests rather than how you gonna stop the brutality. You're calling your cabinet in, trying to figure out how its gonna affect your vote rather than how its going to affect our lives," Sharpton said from the pulpit.

"You scheming on how you can spin the story rather than how you can achieve justice," he said, repeatedly using the phrase "wickedness in high places."

"Until we know that the price of black life is the same as the price for white life we will keep coming back to these situations over and over again," he said.Family members of African-American citizen George Floyd, who was killed on 25 May 2020 by a white policeman in the US city of Minneapolis, attend his funeral service at the Fountain of Praise Church. Photo: David J. Phillip/POOL via Zuma/dpaFamily members of George Floyd at his funeral. Photo: David J. Phillip/POOL via Zuma/dpa

Joe Biden: "Systematic abuse"

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke against the "systematic abuse that still plagues American life" in a video address.

In remarks interspersed with quotes from the Bible, Biden noted the pain of black families who lose their fathers to violence.

"We can heal this nation's wounds and remember its pain," the former vice president said. "Now is the time for racial justice."

After the funeral, the body was due to be taken to the nearby city of Pearland for burial in a plot next to Floyd's mother. The casket was to be carried for the last mile of the funeral procession in a horse-drawn carriage, local officials said.

On Monday, there was a six-hour public viewing of the casket that attracted a diverse and large crowd. Memorial services where held in Minnesota last week and North Carolina over the weekend.

Floyd's death while being detained by Minneapolis police two weeks ago has sparked a massive protest movement across the country, and around the world, as the US is again forced to consider racism and heavy-handed policing tactics.

The four officers involved have been fired and arrested, with one facing second-degree murder charges and the other three for aiding and abetting. They have been granted bail.

One of the most likely tactics on the chopping block is the use of chokeholds by police, which Democrats in Congress and local politicians are seeking to ban.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at Floyd's funeral he would sign an executive order to prohibit the city police from using the move.

09 June 2020, US, Houston: US actors Channing Tatum (L) and Jamie Foxx attend the funeral service for African-American citizen George Floyd, who was killed on 25 May 2020 by a white policeman in the US city of Minneapolis, at the Fountain of Praise Church. Photo: David J. Phillip/POOL via Zuma/dpaActors Channing Tatum (L) and Jamie Foxx at the funeral. Photo: David J. Phillip/POOL via Zuma/dpa

Reducing funding to police

Protests in some cities have turned to demanding a "defunding" of police departments, an idea that largely implies reducing funding to police and redirecting the cash to social programmes.

The aim is reducing friction between communities, in particular black communities, with law enforcement.

Conservative critics and even Biden have come out strongly against the idea, often saying that police need to be reformed but departments should not be shrunk, in line with what most people have said they support in recent surveys.

Regardless, the discussion is the most serious on reform and racism in years and polls indicate attitudes across the country have shifted drastically in recent years, towards supporting the revamping of laws and recognizing the importance of discrimination and bias.

Democrats introduced federal legislation on Monday that seeks to make the police more accountable.

Trump has continued to back law enforcement, and his administration denies there is systemic racism but has said it is open to limited reforms.

Protests have continued in numerous cities and are now largely peaceful.

Hundreds mourn George Floyd at funeral in Texas