Watch Live: George Floyd Funeral in Houston Today

Watch Live: George Floyd Funeral in Houston Today 1
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George Floyd, whose death sparked widespread protests against police brutality, will be laid to rest at a private funeral in Houston.CreditCredit…Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times

George Floyd’s death energized a movement. He will be buried in Houston today.

After more than two weeks of demonstrations and anguished calls for racial justice, the man whose death gave rise to an international movement, and whose last words — “I can’t breathe” — have become a rallying cry, will be laid to rest on Tuesday at a private funeral in Houston.

George Floyd, 46, will then be buried in a grave next to his mother’s.

The service, which began with a procession of mourners at the Fountain of Praise church, comes after five days of public memorials in Minneapolis, North Carolina and Houston and two weeks after a Minneapolis police officer was captured on video pressing his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

A large crowd flowed into the church for more than half an hour, beginning about 11 a.m. Central time, with many people wearing masks because of the coronavirus.

Various public figures were expected to be in attendance, including Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green the rapper Slim Thug and the boxer Floyd Mayweather. The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.

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A recorded video is expected from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who met with Mr. Floyd’s family on Monday.

A collection of flowers piled up hours before the funeral was scheduled to begin, an expression of grief and sorrow left at the church’s front doors, beneath a framed picture of Mr. Floyd.

To many, the pain was both deeply personal and collective, after years of watching black Americans killed at the hands of the police.

“In my mind, I’m thinking, that could be my father, that could be my cousin, my brother,” said Arion Ford, 27, a community organizer from the St. Louis area and a friend of the Floyd family’s, who knelt down and prayed on Tuesday morning, choking back tears as he stood up. “It could happen to any one of us.”

His friend, Trisha Boyle, 29, a fellow community activist from St. Louis, who, like Mr. Ford, is black, said Mr. Floyd’s death had awakened a moment of national reckoning.

“We go to school,” said Ms. Boyle, who said she had two master’s degrees. “We do the American dream. There’s this one piece that’s missing — we’re murdered.”

Not far away, a black police officer stood guard in her uniform. On her face was a coronavirus mask embroidered with a name and a message: George Floyd.

Remembering George Floyd as he lived.

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Credit…Michael Starghill Jr. for The New York Times

The world now knows George Perry Floyd Jr. through his final harrowing moments, as he begged for air, his face wedged for nearly nine minutes between a police officer’s knee and a city street.

Mr. Floyd’s death, immortalized on a bystander’s cellphone video during the twilight hours of Memorial Day, has powered two weeks of sprawling protests across America against police brutality.

But Mr. Floyd, 46, was more than the nearly nine-minute graphic video of his death. He was more than the 16 utterances, captured in the recording, of some version of “I can’t breathe.”

He was an outsize man who dreamed equally big, unswayed by the setbacks of his life, our reporters Manny Fernandez and Audra D.S. Burch write in their profile of Mr. Floyd’s life.

Growing up in one of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods, he enjoyed a star turn as a basketball and football player, with three catches for 18 yards in a state championship game his junior year.

He was the first of his siblings to go to college, and did so on an athletic scholarship. But when he returned to Texas after a couple of years, he lost nearly a decade to arrests and incarcerations on mostly drug-related offenses. By the time he left his hometown for good a few years ago, moving 1,200 miles to Minneapolis for work, he was ready for a fresh start.

In Minnesota, Mr. Floyd lived in a red clapboard duplex with two roommates on the eastern edge of St. Louis Park, a leafy, gentrifying Minneapolis suburb.

Beginning in 2017, he worked as a security guard at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center, a downtown homeless shelter and transitional housing facility.

Jonathan Veal, 45, a high school teammate of Mr. Floyd’s, remembered the star basketball player: “George turned to me and said, ‘I want to touch the world.’”

A New York City officer who shoved a protester will be arrested, officials say.

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A New York City police officer is expected to surrender to face criminal charges on Tuesday, over a week after he was recorded on video shoving a woman to the ground and cursing at her during a protest against police brutality, the police commissioner and law enforcement officials said.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office plans to charge the officer, Vincent D’Andraia, with misdemeanor assault, harassment and menacing over the May 29 incident, one law enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

Cellphone video showed him knocking the victim, Dounya Zayer, 20, to the ground and swearing at her after she asked him why he told her to get out of the street.

The expected arrest of the officer on assault charges is highly unusual and seemed to reflect the growing political pressure on the police and prosecutors to hold officers accountable for misconduct, including for actions at protests across the country, where bystander video has played a key role in documenting police aggression.

In Buffalo, two police officers were charged with felony assault after a video showed officers shoving a 75-year-old activist to the ground. In Philadelphia, a police inspector who used his baton to strike a Temple University student in the head at a protest was charged with aggravated assault.

Trump promotes a conspiracy theory suggesting that an injured Buffalo protester was involved in a “set up.”

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Buffalo Police Shove Man to the Ground

Police officers knocked a man down on a sidewalk in Buffalo on Thursday as he tried to talk to them. The 75-year-old man appeared to hit his head and lie motionless on the ground.

“Move back!” “Hey!” [gasps] “He is bleeding!” “Bleeding out his ears, bleeding out of his ears.” “Call a medic! Call a medic!” “He’s bleeding out of his ear.” “Get a medic.” “What the [expletive] you walking up on me?” [unclear] “Oh [expletive].” “Back up. Back up. Get off the steps, let’s go, get back. Get back!” “Better get an ambulance for him.” “He’s — there — we have EMT on scene.”

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Police officers knocked a man down on a sidewalk in Buffalo on Thursday as he tried to talk to them. The 75-year-old man appeared to hit his head and lie motionless on the ground.CreditCredit…WBFO NPR

President Trump on Tuesday went after a 75-year-old demonstrator shoved violently to the pavement and injured by Buffalo police in a video seen by tens of millions, advancing — without any evidence — a conspiracy theory that the incident could have been “a set up.”

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than he was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Mr. Trump evidently was watching the One America News Network, a channel aimed at viewers who think Fox News is not supportive enough of the president and that he has been promoting lately. The network aired a segment referring to the incident as “so-called police brutality” and suggesting without evidence that it was a “false flag” incident staged by antifa, a loose movement of anti-fascist activists.

Two Buffalo police officers were charged with felony assault after a widely viewed video taken by WBFO, a local radio station, showed two police officers shoving Mr. Gugino, who has been identified as an activist and a member of the Western New York Peace Center.

The president’s tweet drew immediate condemnations.

“He should apologize for that tweet,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. “Show some humanity.”

“You think the blood coming out of his head was staged?” he asked, incredulously.

Former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican and Trump critic, wrote on Twitter: “This was a 75-year-old man shoved to the ground, left bleeding from a head wound. “Trafficking in conspiracy theories like this are beneath your office, Mr. President.”

The latest comments came a day after Mr. Trump denied that systemic problems existed in American police departments, declaring that as many as 99.9 percent of the nation’s officers are “great, great people.”

Mr. Trump, who has adopted an uncompromising law-and-order posture and scorned demonstrations that have broken out in cities nationwide, surrounded himself with law enforcement officials at the White House on Monday and tried to link calls to cut police funding to his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — even though Mr. Biden had earlier come out against defunding the police.

“There won’t be defunding,” Mr. Trump said. “There won’t be dismantling of our police. There’s not going to be any disbanding of our police.”

Although aides said on Monday that Mr. Trump was studying proposals for changes to law enforcement, the president himself made little effort to suggest as much.

“Sometimes we’ll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently,” Mr. Trump said at the event. “But I say 99.9 — let’s go with 99 percent of them — great, great people and they’ve done jobs that are record setting.”

What people mean when they say, ‘Defund the police.’

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Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

In Minneapolis, lawmakers vowed to dismantle the police department and create a new system of public safety. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to cut the city’s police budget and spend more on social services. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said last week that he would cut as much as $150 million from a planned increase in the police department’s budget.

Calls to cut back funding to police have been spreading with new force around the country, as officials weigh a delicate balance between public concern about crime versus repulsion at police brutality. Here is a look at what defunding the police means.

What does defunding the police mean?

Calls to defund police departments generally seek spending cuts to police forces that have consumed ever larger shares of local budgets in many cities and towns.

Minneapolis, for instance, is looking to cut $200 million from its $1.3 billion overall annual budget, said Lisa Bender, the City Council president. The police budget for 2020 is $189 million.

She says she hopes to shift money to other areas of need in the city.

If the money doesn’t go to policing, where will it be spent?

Many activists want money that is now spent on overtime for the police or on buying expensive equipment for police departments to be shifted to programs related to mental health, housing and education.

Activists say that putting sufficient money into these sectors could bring about societal change and reduce crime and violence.

Has this been done anywhere?

Some U.S. cities have already made changes to policing. In Austin, Texas, 911 calls are answered by operators who inquire whether the caller needs police, fire or mental health services — part of a major revamping of public safety that took place last year when the city budget added millions of dollars for mental health issues.

In Eugene, Ore., a team called CAHOOTS — Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets — deploys a medic and a crisis worker with mental health training to emergency calls.

Camden, N.J., revamped its policing in 2017 with officers handing out more warnings than tickets and undergoing training that emphasizes officers’ holding their fire.

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Case for Defunding the Police

Protesters across the country are calling for the abolition of policing. But what would that actually look like?

It’s not just big cities. Protests are reaching small towns across America.

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Credit…L. Kasimu Harris for The New York Times

Rick Rojas reporting in Petal, Miss.

In what has become a morning routine, Lorraine Bates walks the seven-tenths of a mile to City Hall from her house in Petal, Miss. In the first days of demonstrations, she joined some 200 other protesters, many of them white, chanting and waving “Black Lives Matter” posters. But there were also times when it was just her and a groundskeeper who mowed around her.

She would keep coming, she said, until the mayor of Petal resigned, or at least exhibited something like genuine remorse for what he said about George Floyd after his fatal encounter with the Minneapolis police, including, “If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing.”

“As long as I’ve got my health and my strength, I’ll be out here every day,” Ms. Bates, 70, said as she sat on her rolling walker on the front lawn of City Hall, recalling the stamina of the activists who had influenced her years earlier as a young black woman rooted in the Deep South.

As demonstrations over the death of Mr. Floyd grip major cities across America, the wave of fury and sorrow has also spread to small towns, including Petal, a city of about 10,000 where the population is 85 percent white.

The local protests began after the white mayor, Hal Marx, wrote on Twitter that he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” in the video showing Mr. Floyd pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee. Soon, protesters were gathering outside the mayor’s house and calling attention to a local case of a black man killed by a white police officer in 2017.

The tensions in Petal illustrate how the protests have played out in many smaller communities across America, where demonstrations have by and large not been as explosive as those in big cities dominating the media’s attention. But the tension is still there, subtle and more concentrated as a national conversation over police brutality and systemic racism plays out in the confines of tight-knit communities.

Jacksonville, Fla., a possible host for the Republican National Convention, removes a Confederate monument.

Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville ordered the removal overnight of a bronze Confederate soldier monument in Hemming Park and said other similar statutes would also come down.

Hundreds of protesters had marched in the city over the weekend demanding that the monuments go down. Mr. Curry, a Republican, walked with more demonstrators on Tuesday morning and pledged to bring legislation to the City Council to bring independent community voices into discussions about policing. “We hear your voices,” Mr. Curry said.

The city is considered a leading contender to host the Republican National Convention in August.

The order follows similar moves to remove symbols of the Confederacy in other cities in recent days, as the death of George Floyd and calls for racial justice reignited a movement that has been gaining traction — and meeting resistance — for years.

The mayor of Birmingham, Ala., ordered the removal of a contentious Confederate statue from a park last week on Jefferson Davis Day, the state holiday in Alabama honoring the Confederate leader.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, a move that was temporarily blocked by a judge.

Defying police unions, New York lawmakers are banning chokeholds.

New York legislative leaders have begun to approve an expansive package of bills targeting police misconduct, defying longstanding opposition from law enforcement groups, including police unions.

The measures range from a ban on the use of chokeholds to the repeal of an obscure decades-old statute that has effectively hidden the disciplinary records of police officers from public view, making it virtually impossible for victims to know whether a particular officer has a history of abuse.

The legislation marks one of the most substantial policy changes to result from the nearly two weeks of national unrest that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, including in New York City, where tens of thousands of protesters participated in mostly peaceful marches to demand more police accountability.

The proposals signify a turning-point in Albany, where many of the policy changes being voted on this week languished for years because of opposition from influential police and corrections unions that contribute generously to the campaigns of elected officials.

The State Senate had traditionally been controlled by Republicans, but Democrats assumed control of the full Legislature last year for the first time in nearly a decade, clearing the way for lawmakers to pass some of the law enforcement bills on Monday. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said he supported the bills and intended to sign them into law.

Reporting was contributed by Peter Baker, Katie Benner, Audra D.S. Burch, Alexander Burns, John Eligon, Tess Felder, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Katie Glueck, Russell Goldman, Maggie Haberman, Astead W. Herndon, Thomas Kaplan, Annie Karni, Jonathan Martin, Jeffery C. Mays, Patricia Mazzei, Sarah Mervosh, Rick Rojas, Giovanni Russonello, Marc Santora, Dionne Searcey, Ashley Southall and Farah Stockman.

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