Protesters to return to US streets following Floyd's funeral

Protesters to return to US streets following Floyd's funeral

Protest against racial inequality in aftermath of death in Minneapolis police custody of George Flo
Demonstrators protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S. June 9, 2020. Picture taken June 9, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Idris Solomon)

HOUSTON: Protesters will take to the streets across the United States again on Wednesday (Jun 10) one day after the funeral of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has ignited the biggest surge of anti-racism activism since the civil rights era of the 1960s.

Hundreds of protesters in the west coast city of Seattle filled City Hall into early Wednesday calling for the mayor to resign and for police reforms.

More protests were expected from Atlanta to New York City and Los Angeles in what will be the 16th straight day of demonstrations.

In Washington, one of Floyd's brothers was due to speak to a Democratic-led congressional panel on Wednesday as lawmakers take on the twin issues of police violence and racial injustice.

READ: Demands for justice at funeral of George Floyd

At the funeral in Houston on Tuesday, veteran civil rights activist the Reverend Al Sharpton told mourners Floyd was now "the cornerstone of a movement that is going to change the whole wide world".

Sharpton said the Floyd family would lead a march on Washington on Aug 28 to mark the 57th anniversary of the 1963 I Have a Dream speech given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated in 1968.

Protest against racial inequality in aftermath of death in Minneapolis police custody of George Flo
A demonstrator waves an American flag during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S. June 9, 2020. Picture taken June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Idris Solomon

Floyd, 46, died after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was held face down in a street in Minneapolis on May 25.

His death unleashed a surge of protests across US cities against racism and the systematic mistreatment of black people.

It has also inspired anti-racism protests in several countries in Europe. In Britain, with its own conflicted legacy of empire, statues of historical figures linked to the slave trade have been toppled or taken down.

Protest against racial inequality in aftermath of death in Minneapolis police custody of George Flo
A demonstrator uses a megaphone during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S. June 9, 2020. Picture taken June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Idris Solomon

Though mostly peaceful, the US protests have been marred by arson, looting and clashes with police, whose often heavy-handed tactics have fueled the rage.

The furor has also thrust President Donald Trump into a political crisis as he bids for re-election in November. Trump has threatened tough action to restore order but has struggled to unite the nation while failing to address the issue of racial inequality.

GRIEF AND OUTRAGE

During a four-hour service broadcast live from a church in Floyd's boyhood home of Houston, relatives, clergy and politicians exhorted Americans to turn grief and outrage at his death into a moment of reckoning for the country.

Around 2,500 people attended the funeral after more than 6,000 people had filed past Floyd's open casket on Monday.

Woman raises a fist at Black Lives Matter banner  in Washington
Tee Wright, from Washington, raises a fist in front of a Black Lives Matter banner across from the White House in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Two columns of Houston police officers saluted the golden casket as it was wheeled from the hearse into the church before the service. A horse-drawn carriage later bore the coffin on its last mile to the cemetery in Pearland, Texas, where Floyd was buried in a private ceremony.

Among those attending were relatives of several other black men killed by white police or white civilians, including the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Georgia man who was shot and killed in February while jogging. Three white men were charged in his death.

Sharpton called Floyd "an ordinary brother" who grew up in a housing project but left behind a legacy of greatness despite rejections in jobs and sports that prevented him from achieving all that he once aspired to become.

READ: 'Burn down racism': World rallies against George Floyd's death

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with second-degree murder and three other officers with aiding and abetting Floyd's death. All were dismissed from the department a day after the incident.

Video footage shot by a bystander showed Floyd handcuffed and lying face down on the street while an officer kneels into the back of his neck. Floyd gasps for air as he cries out, "mama", and groans "please, I can't breathe", before falling silent and still.

His dying words have become a rallying cry for protesters.

Cleanup after  Black Lives Matter protests begins in Washington
A Black Lives Matter banner remains on the security fence across from the White House as a general cleanup from the recent demonstrations takes place in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Calls have also been made for "defunding" police departments or redirecting money spent on law enforcement to community programs.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was among politicians embracing police reforms.

"We need to root out systemic racism across our laws and institutions, and we need to make sure black Americans have a real shot to get ahead." Biden wrote in an opinion piece in USA Today in Wednesday

He said that while he did not support defunding, "I do not believe federal dollars should go to police departments that are violating people’s rights or turning to violence as the first resort."

Source: Reuters/jt

Bookmark