RAEFORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Mourners of George Floyd, a black man who died while being detained by Minneapolis police officers, gathered for a public viewing and a memorial service in North Carolina Saturday.
The viewing and a later memorial were held in Raeford, in Hoke County near Fayetteville, where Floyd was born. The public viewing got underway at 11 a.m. and was open through 1 p.m. A private memorial service, open to family members, began at 3 p.m. and lasted for nearly three hours.
Gospel music was blared, people were dancing and singing aloud, celebrating the life of a man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and back for nearly nine minutes. Floyd died moments after he bellowed out, “I can’t breathe," which was captured on video for the entire world to witness.
Floyd’s death was the last straw for protesters to stand against police brutality and social injustice.
Demonstrations and protests erupted throughout the nation, as well as Charlotte, and some turned violent.
Saturday’s memorial service in North Carolina was the second of three stops.
Thousands showed up, showing support, at the open viewing.
Then, a gathering of close friends and family members packed the church to celebrate Floyd’s life.
A spokesperson from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office delivered a North Carolina Flag that was raised on June 3, 2020 in Floyd’s honor.
On Thursday, a memorial service was held in Minneapolis where he was living. After Saturday’s service in North Carolina, Floyd’s body will be taken to Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life, for a public viewing.
A 500-person ceremony will be held at Fountain of Praise Church in Houston on Tuesday, according to CBS News.
Last weekend, during a press conference, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had spoken to Floyd’s sister, Bridgett, who still lives in Hoke County.
He assured her that the state will do everything it can to work for justice in Floyd’s honor.
“While I cannot bring her brother back, I can work for justice in his name,” Cooper said. “I’ve assured her that’s what we will do.”
Peterkin asks visitors and supporters to wear a mask, and says protesting is not allowed.
“As the Sheriff of Hoke County, I’m asking on behalf of the Floyd family for those who plan on attending the viewing to be respectful to the sensitivity of the family’s time of grief,” Peterkin said. “The memorial is about the life that Mr. George Floyd lived and this is a time to embrace the family with expressions of love and kindness.”
Floyd died on May 25 while in police custody in Minnesota.
Onlookers took a video showing police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck and back, while Floyd was handcuffed, for nine minutes.
In the video, Floyd was heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”
The video, and Floyd’s death, has sparked outrage and protests across the nation. It sparked members of the black community to speak out on police brutality and civil injustice.
Here in Charlotte, there have been eight straight days of protests.
Chauvin was arrested and has been charged with second-degree murder.
Three other Minneapolis police officers were charged Tuesday.
All four officers were fired last week. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.