By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Jun 4 (efe-epa).- Shouts and slogans against police brutality targeting African Americans once again on Thursday resounded through the streets in a number of major US cities, while in Minneapolis hundreds gathered to bid a tearful farewell to George Floyd, whose murder while in police custody last week sparked a nationwide wave of protests, riots and looting.
Hundreds of people paid homage to Floyd, an African American, at the North Central University amphitheater in the Minnesota capital, with Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the civil rights leader killed in 1968, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson among the crowd.
Also on hand for the service were Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Ayana Pressley and Joyce Beatty; along with rappers TI, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson; comedians Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish; and actress Marsai Martin.
Before Floyd’s gold-colored casket, the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an emotional eulogy in which he urged the black community to remove once and for all the “knee” that presses down on their neck and prevents them from prospering, a metaphor evoking the way in which Floyd lost his life on May 25.
Floyd, who has become a symbol of the hunger for change, was arrested by Minneapolis police, handcuffed and placed facedown on the pavement but then suffocated when a white cop knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, a shocking death scene that was recorded by passersby on their cellphones and has sparked outrage and anger all across the US.
“George Floyd’s story is the story of black folks,” Sharpton said in his moving eulogy. “Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being – because you kept your knee on our necks.”
Sharpton went on to say: “What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country – in education, in health services and in every area of American life. It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name, ‘Get your knee off our necks.'”
The officer who asphyxiated Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second degree murder, while the other three officers assisting him in arresting and subduing Floyd are also facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting a murder, and bail for each has been set at $750,000, according to a judge’s ruling on Thursday.
The funeral on Thursday in Minneapolis is just the first of a series of religious services being held to honor Floyd, whose name continues to be heard at protests around the country.
In Washington DC, where violent disturbances began last Sunday night, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday announced the end of the curfew she had declared.
During the past two days, the violence has been diminishing and on Wednesday night there were no arrests linked to the protests, which were participated in by some 5,000 people, according to estimates by the chief of police in the US capital, Peter Newsham.
On Monday, when the demonstrators were dispersed in front of the White House using tear gas, there were 288 arrests and on Tuesday there were 29, Newsham said.
Despite the decline in the fury of the disturbances, the Secret Service on Thursday strengthened the security perimeter around the White House, expanding it by several blocks and deploying new barricades and fences, along with gray cement blockades, EFE noted.
Within that security perimeter, early on Thursday afternoon, dozens of security personnel monitored from a distance the activists who once again began approaching the presidential residence.
One of those demonstrators, Paul Cue, a 40-year-old African American, told EFE that he had been taking part in the protests since Sunday because he is “very tired” of the US black community “being killed by the police for no reason” and because “there’s no equality or justice” for them.
He said that he has a 17-year-old son who has begun to drive and he has had to explain to the boy that, because he’s black, he has to be even more careful if the police stop him.
Cue said he had to tell his son to roll down the windows “very slowly, keep your hands on the steering wheel” and “repeat everything that the police tell you,” such as “You want to see my driver’s license?” or “You want me to get out of the vehicle?”
Such conversations are ones that white families seldom need to have, said Cue, adding that he feels outraged that he needs to inform his children of things like this.
He said that he himself had an incident with the police two years ago when officers ordered him out of his car and pointed a pistol at him because, they said, he was “enjoying himself too much.”