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"He's Going To Change The World": George Floyd Is Laid To Rest As Protests Continue Nationwide

"I want justice for my brother," Philonise Floyd said in a speech. "Everybody's going to remember him around the world. He's going to change the world."

Last updated on June 9, 2020, at 4:42 p.m. ET

Posted on June 9, 2020, at 12:01 p.m. ET

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Family and friends attend George Floyd's funeral service in Houston.

George Floyd, whose killing in Minneapolis police custody sparked unprecedented protests across the US and around the world, was laid to rest Tuesday in his hometown of Houston, surrounded by friends and family.

About 500 guests, including civil rights leaders, celebrities, and politicians, attended Floyd's funeral, which was livestreamed from the Fountain of Praise church.

Thousands showed up on Monday to pay their respects at a public viewing.

Pastor Mia K. Wright told CNN that Tuesday's service would be a celebration of Floyd's life and would include a "call to justice, a call for social reform" from those scheduled to speak.

"In the tradition of the African American church, this will be a homegoing celebration of brother George Floyd's life," Wright said.

Dozens of Floyd's family members, dressed in white, attended the service, with some delivering powerful speeches, including his brother, who thanked God "for giving me my own personal Superman."

Floyd's niece, Brooke Williams, told the crowd that "as long as I'm breathing, justice will be served."

"The officer showed no remorse while watching my uncle's soul leave his body," she said. "He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder. Why must this system be corrupt and broken?"

"Someone said, 'Make America great again,'" she added. "But when has America ever been great?"

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Brooke Williams, George Floyd's niece.

"I want justice for my brother, my big brother. That's Big Floyd. Everybody knows who Big Floyd is now," Floyd's brother, Philonise, said. "Everybody's going to remember him around the world. He's going to change the world."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who announced he will sign an executive order implementing police reforms, including banning the use of chokeholds and strangleholds, welcomed June 9 as "George Perry Floyd Jr. Day" in Houston.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officers pulled him out of his car and violently arrested him. Bystanders screamed in protest as Derek Chauvin, an officer, put him in a knee chokehold for more than eight minutes while three other officers stood by, even as Floyd cried, "I can't breathe!"

An independent autopsy later determined that Floyd died of "homicide caused by asphyxiation."

Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder, and the three others have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Floyd's killing has led to weeks of protests around the world. In the US, protests have been met with violence from law enforcement, fueling calls to defund or abolish police forces entirely.

In a pretaped speech from Joe Biden that played during the service, the former vice president addressed Floyd's family's grief and the public nature of his death.

"We know you will never feel the same again. For most people, the numbness you feel now will slowly turn, day after day, season after season, into purpose through the memory of the one they lost," Biden said. "But for you, that day has come before you can fully grieve. And unlike most, you must grieve in public. It's a burden. A burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd."

Agustin Paullier / Getty Images

Protesters in California march during a demonstration against anti-Black racism and police brutality.

The uprising across the world in the wake of Floyd's death was widely acknowledged in other speeches.

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said Floyd's purpose "was around the world that there are people rising up that will never sit down until you get justice."

"There will be no more 8 minutes and 46 seconds of police brutality," she said, referencing the length of time that Chauvin crushed Floyd's neck with his knee. "There will be no more 8 minutes and 46 seconds of injustice and the mistreatment of African American men at the hands of the laws of this nation and anyone else. There will be no more 8 minutes and 46 seconds that you will be in pain without getting justice."

Rev. William Lawson, the pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston, also spoke about the diversity of the protesters demonstrating against police brutality.

"Now as I look at marches all over the world, protests filling up the streets, and back in the day when I used to be part of the marches, all the marchers were Black," Lawson said. "But now there are white people who know the story. And there are Hispanics who know the story. And there are Asians who know the story."

David J. Phillip / AP

A man draws an image of George Floyd during the funeral service for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church.

In a rousing eulogy for Floyd, Rev. Al Sharpton denounced the systemic racism that has enabled police to continue killing unarmed Black people for decades, a problem, he said, "that has been allowed to permeate since we were brought to these shores."

"If you had any idea how all of us would react, you'd have took your knee off his neck. If you had any idea that everybody, from those in the Third Ward to those in Hollywood, would show up in Houston and Minneapolis and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, you'd have took your knee off his neck," Sharpton said. "If you had any idea that people, white and Black, was going to line up in a pandemic, when we're told to stay inside, and we come out and march in the streets at the risk of our health, you'd have took your knee off his neck."

Floyd will be buried next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd, at Houston Memorial Gardens.

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