Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed during a police arrest over counterfeit money, has been laid to rest next to his mother in Houston where he grew up.

The horse-drawn carriage coffin of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, enters the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery for his final resting place in Pearland, Texas, US, June 9, 2020.
The horse-drawn carriage coffin of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, enters the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery for his final resting place in Pearland, Texas, US, June 9, 2020. (Reuters)

Mourners packed a Houston church to pay tribute to George Floyd at his hometown funeral on Tuesday, the culmination of a long farewell to the 46-year-old African American whose death in custody ignited global protests against police brutality and racism.

Politicians, civil rights activists and celebrities joined the family to share memories of the man they called a "gentle giant" before his gold casket was due to be conveyed by horse-drawn carriage to his final resting place.

"We may weep, we may mourn, we'll be comforted and we will find hope," the church's co-pastor Mia Wright said.

"This is a home-going celebration."

Banners featured pop art illustrations of Floyd wearing a baseball cap with a halo above it.

American flags lined the streets outside the church. Flowers and bouquets were placed around a photograph of Floyd.

After the service, Floyd’s golden casket was taken by hearse to the cemetery in the Houston suburb of Pearland where he was to be entombed next to his mother, for whom he cried out as he lay dying. 

A mile from the graveyard, the casket was transferred to a glass-sided carriage drawn by a pair of white horses. A brass band played as his casket was taken inside the mausoleum.

Hundreds of people, some chanting, "Say his name, George Floyd," gathered along the procession route and outside the cemetery entrance in the mid-90s heat.

"I don't want to see any black man, any man, but most definitely not a black man sitting on the ground in the hands of bad police," said Marcus Brooks, 47, who set up a tent with other graduates of Jack Yates High School, Floyd’s alma mater.

Floyd's death triggers a movement

On May 25, a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes, the dying man cried out for his mother.

A public memorial service was held on Monday in Houston, where he grew up. Some 6,000 people attended.

Floyd's death sparked international protests and drew new attention to the treatment of African Americans in the US by police and the criminal justice system. 

In the past two weeks, sweeping and previously unthinkable things have taken place: confederate statues have been toppled, police departments around America have rethought the way they patrol minority neighbourhoods, legislatures have debated use-of-force policies, and white, black and brown people have had uncomfortable, sometimes heated, discussions about race in a country that is supposed to ensure equal opportunity for all.

Calls for "defunding the police" have cropped up in many communities, and people around the world took to the streets in solidarity, saying that reforms and dialogue must not stop with Floyd's funeral.

Politicking around race

His death has also reshaped the presidential race. 

President Donald Trump is hoping to rebound from one of the lowest points of his presidency as recent polls show that 8 in 10 Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and even spiralling out of control. 

The president got a boost late last week with a better-than-expected jobs report, but he’s struggling to show consistent leadership on several issues, including the nationwide protests against police brutality.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday the time to end racial injustice in America is "now," as he addressed by video the funeral of George Floyd, whose death in custody triggered worldwide protests against racism.

"Now is the time for racial justice," said the Democrat who will challenge President Donald Trump in the November election, adding that "millions" of protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks with a similar message.

"We must not turn away," Biden said. "We can not leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul."

14 nights of unrest

For 14 nights, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. 

Cities imposed curfews as several protests last week were marred by spasms of arson, assaults and smash-and-grab raids on businesses. 

More than 10,000 people have been arrested around the country, according to reports tracked by The Associated Press.

An image of George Floyd is projected on the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee on Monument Avenue, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia.
An image of George Floyd is projected on the base of the statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee on Monument Avenue, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. (AP)

Justice for Floyd

But protests in recent days have been overwhelmingly peaceful – and over the weekend, several police departments appeared to retreat from aggressive tactics. 

Thousands of Los Angeles protesters arrested for violating curfew and other police orders will not be charged with a crime, prosecutors said on Monday.

Four Minneapolis officers were charged in connection with Floyd's death, which was captured on video by bystanders, who begged police to stop hurting him.

A Minnesota judge on Monday kept bail at $1.25 million for Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s former co-workers, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged as accomplices.

The 44-year-old Chauvin said almost nothing during the 11-minute hearing while appearing on closed-circuit television from a maximum-security prison.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies