George Floyd’s funeral under way in Houston

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Mourners wore “I can’t breathe” badges at the service

The funeral is under way in Houston, Texas, for African American George Floyd whose shocking death in police custody caused global outrage.

His coffin will be taken from a church where it was on public display on Monday, to be buried beside his mother.

Mr Floyd died in Minneapolis last month as a white police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, his final moments filmed on phones.

Four police officers involved have been sacked and charged over his death.

“When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said in a video message broadcast at the service.

He had visited the Floyd family to offer his sympathies on Monday.

Mr Biden has sharply criticised President Donald Trump, who is standing for re-election as the Republican candidate on 3 November, accusing him at the weekend of making “despicable” speculative remarks about Mr Floyd.

The Democratic politician was himself recently accused of taking black American votes for granted when he said African Americans “ain’t black” if they even considered voting for Mr Trump.

What is happening at the funeral?

A service is being held at the Fountain of Praise church, attended by some 500 guests including politicians and celebrities.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called on people to honour the funeral by observing silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the time Mr Floyd was pinned to the ground before he died.

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EPA

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Mourners visited George Floyd’s coffin before the service

The coffin will then be taken to a cemetery in Pearland, south of Houston. For the last mile of the procession it will be conveyed in a horse-drawn carriage.

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Mr Floyd’s coffin was brought back to the church on Tuesday for the service

Barriers have been erected along the route to allow members of the public to pay their respects safely as the procession passes.

Mr Floyd will be buried in a private ceremony.

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EPA

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Mr Floyd will be interred in a mausoleum in Pearland

His body was on display at the church for six hours on Monday.

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Media captionGeorge Floyd’s ex partner: ‘Gianna doesn’t have a father’

Memorial services were also held in Minneapolis and North Carolina, where Mr Floyd was born.

What did Biden say about Floyd’s family?

“They’re an incredible family, his little daughter was there, the one who said ‘daddy’s going to change the world’, and I think her daddy is going to change the world,” Mr Biden told CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell.

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@jmilleresq

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Joe Biden meeting George Floyd’s family

“I think what happened here is one of the great inflection points in American history, for real, in terms of civil liberties, civil rights and just treating people with dignity.”

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Media captionJoe Biden: George Floyd death a “great inflection point in American history”

Floyd family spokesman Benjamin Crump, who tweeted a photo of the meeting said Mr Floyd’s relatives welcomed Mr Biden’s comments.

“That compassion meant the world to this grieving family,” he added.

Aides to the former vice-president said he would also record a video message for Tuesday’s service.

Every candidate casts their forthcoming election as a pivotal moment in history. Sometimes it is; most of the time it isn’t. Joe Biden has been saying from the start that November will be the opportunity for Americans to define what kind of nation they want to be.

Many have shrugged that off as standard rhetoric from a veteran politician. Now, however, Biden’s case may be building.

Polls suggest American views on race and law enforcement have shifted dramatically in just a few weeks and that the issue, usually a lower priority, is now at the top of voters’ minds.

Six years ago, only 33% of Americans said police were more likely to use excessive force against blacks. Now that number is 57% – including 49% of white respondents.

Biden, given that black voters were the backbone of his Democratic primary support, could be well positioned to capitalise. While he has a penchant for verbal stumbles, his empathy is one of his strengths – on display during his visit to George Floyd’s family.

Elections can hinge on unpredictable events and movements, with successful candidates spotting the wave and riding it to victory.

While five months is an eternity in American politics, Biden may have found his moment.

More on George Floyd’s death

How have the protests spread?

Anti-racism protests started by Mr Floyd’s death are now entering their third week in the US. Huge rallies have been held in several cities, including Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Media caption“Keep pushing”: Washington DC protesters on keeping the momentum going

With the rallying cries “Black Lives matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”, the demonstrations are among the largest US protests against racism since the 1960s. Saturday’s gatherings included a protest in the Texas town of Vidor, once infamous as a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group.

Sensitivity to racism has grown in other Western countries in response to George Floyd’s death:

  • The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, set up a commission to review the city’s landmarks to ensure they reflect its diversity, days after the statue of a slave trader was torn down in Bristol.
  • In the Belgian city of Antwerp, a statue of King Leopold II, who ruled during a period of brutal colonisation in Africa, was taken down

How divisive is the Floyd crisis for US politics?

The Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have proposed sweeping legislation to reform American police.

The Justice in Policing Act would make it easier to prosecute police for misconduct, banning chokeholds and further addressing racism.

President Trump dismissed the bill, saying the Democrats had “gone CRAZY”, and his Republican Party controls the Senate.

Donald Trump casts himself as the candidate of law and order who urged officials to “dominate” George Floyd protesters while counting on an economic rebound to stay in office.

He is expected to resume campaign rallies in the next two weeks after a three-month pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.





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