MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Friends, family and much of the community said goodbye to George Floyd at a memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday afternoon, the first of three memorial services for Floyd before his funeral in Houston next week.
The two-hour memorial service took place at North Central University's Trask Worship Center near downtown Minneapolis. The memorial service was private, but hundreds of people gathered in a nearby park to listen to the memorial service over the loudspeakers.
The private service was attended by celebrities, civil rights activists, politicians and family members to both celebrate Floyd's life and mourn a man whose death at the hands of police has sparked protests nationwide and calls for an end to racial injustice.
Human rights advocate Martin Luther King III and family show their respect to the remains of George Floyd awaiting a memorial service in his honor on June 4, 2020, at North Central University's Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended the service along with a number of other local leaders, including U.S. senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.
As people filed into the sanctuary for the memorial service Thursday, Frey was seen openly weeping as he knelt in front of Floyd's casket to pay his respects.
REV. AL SHARPTON DELIVERS POWERFUL EULOGY: 'GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS'
Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a powerful eulogy during a memorial for Floyd Thursday in Minneapolis, in which he metaphorically compared racial inequalities in the country to having a “knee on our neck.”
“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks, because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being, is you kept your knee on our neck,” the 65-year-old said.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 04: The Rev. Al Sharpton arrives with family members of George Floyd at Floyd's memorial service at North Central University on June 4, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd died while in police custody on May 25, after (Scott Olson/Getty Images / FOX 9)
“We were smarter than the underfunded schools you put us in, but you had your knee on our neck,” Sharpton passionately told those in attendance. “We could run corporations and not hustle in the street, but you had your knee on our neck. We had creative skills. We could do whatever anybody else could do. But we couldn’t get your knee off our neck.”
FAMILY MEMBERS REMEMBER GEORGE FLOYD: 'EVERYBODY LOVED GEORGE'
Several members of Floyd's extended family spoke at the memorial service, describing what the Floyd family house was like growing up, sharing stories about George’s sense of humor and talking about how he helped raise a fatherless household in Houston.
"He was teaching us how to be a man because he was in this world before us,” said Rodney, George's youngest brother.
Floyd's family members said everyone loved him.
“No matter who you talked to, they will all say the same thing, that George was somebody who was always welcoming, always made people feel like they were special,” Shareeduh Tate, Floyd's cousin, said. “Nobody felt left out. When he would enter into a room, everybody would feel as though they were special. He would embrace them.”
ATTORNEY: GEORGE FLOYD SURVIVED COVID-19, BUT NOT ‘PANDEMIC’ OF RACISM
The attorney representing George Floyd’s family, Benjamin Crump delivered an address at the memorial service, vowing for justice for Floyd.
Crump told attendees that Floyd was able to survive COVID-19, but could not survive what he called the “pandemic” of racism in America.
“I want to just put it on the record that it was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” he said. “I want to make it clear on the record, we’ll pack it in with that other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with in America, that pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd.”
Crump later made a powerful proclamation: “Do not cooperate with evil—protest against evil.”
Crump referred to the young people in the streets “protesting against the evil, the inhumane, the torture, that they witness on the video.”
“We cannot cooperate with evil, we cannot cooperate with injustice, we cannot cooperate with torture,” Crump said as memorial attendees stood up from their chairs to applause.
“George Floyd deserves better than that, we all deserve better than that, his family deserves better than that, his children deserve better than that,“ he said.
8 MINUTES AND 46 SECONDS MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR GEORGE FLOYD
Following his eulogy, the Rev. Sharpton asked attendees to stand in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remember Floyd—the same amount of time Floyd spent on the ground with now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's knee in his neck.
POLICE OFFICERS KNEEL AS HEARSE PASSES
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo (R) kneels as the remains of George Floyd are taken to a memorial service in his honor on June 4, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. - On May 25, 2020, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a cou (KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and other police officers kneeled as the hearse carrying George Floyd’s casket passed on its way to the memorial service at North Central University’s Trask Worship Center.
GEORGE FLOYD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP CREATED
Dr. Scott Hagen, the president of North Central University in Minneapolis, announced the creation of the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship at Floyd’s memorial service.
Hagen, the president of the university, urged every college in the United States to follow suit and create their own George Floyd Memorial Scholarship.
"I am now challenging every university president in the United States to establish your own George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund," Dr. Hagen proclaimed.
ADDITONAL MEMORIAL SERVICES
It is the first of three memorial services for Floyd before his funeral in Houston next week. Memorial services will also take place in North Carolina and Houston.