Thousands of mourners pay respects ahead of George Floyd funeral

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Thousands attend George Floyd interview

The black man whose death has inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice will be buried in Houston later.

George Floyd, who was 46 when he was killed, will be laid to rest next to his mother.

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

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

Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Mr Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — one of the other things he cried out repeatedly while being pinned down by the police officer — waited for hours to pay their respects.

Shorty after the memorial ended, Mr Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.

As the hearse drove away, 39-year-old Daniel Osarobo, a Houston resident who immigrated from Nigeria, could be heard saying, “Rest in power. Rest In Peace.”

I’ve been stopped by police. I understand the situation. I can only imagine,” said Mr Osarobo, who works as an engineer in the oil and gas industry. “What if it was me? What if it was my brother? What if it was my sister? What if it was my son?”

Those were questions that many black Americans have asked not just in recent weeks, but for decades.

Mr Floyd’s death has 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 and legislatures have debated use-of-force policies.

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 Mr Floyd’s funeral.

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 eight 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 is struggling to show consistent leadership on several issues, including the nationwide protests against police brutality.

Meanwhile, former vice president Joe Biden met Mr Floyd’s family on Monday, according to a photo posted on Twitter by the Rev Al Sharpton. Mr Biden will provide a video message for Mr Floyd’s funeral service. Previous memorials have taken place in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, near where Mr Floyd was born.

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 were marred by 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.

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

Four Minneapolis officers have been charged in connection with Mr 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 $1.25m for Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with second-degree murder. Chauvin’s former co-workers, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, are charged as accomplices.

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