Celebrities, leaders join thousands in Houston for George Floyd memorial

Flowers are laid in the church during a public visitation for George Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)
Flowers are laid in the church during a public visitation for George Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

HOUSTON6 p.m. -- San Antonio is joining city’s across the country in lighting its buildings with crimson and gold to honor George Floyd.

The top level of the Tower of the Americas, the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the Frost Bank Tower, the marquee on the Alamodome and the Consolidated Rental Car facility at the San Antonio International Airport will be lit in those colors, which represent Floyd’s alma mater, Jack Yates High School in Houston.

Read more about it here.

5 p.m. -- Attorney Ben Crump held a press conference with the family members of George Floyd, Pamela Turner, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Botham Jean and Michael Brown calling for comprehensive police reform.

Each family member spoke on the loved one they lost, most of which happened at the hands of police officers.

Crump also introduced lawyers that will be looking into the cases of Floyd, Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Turner.

Crump called on district attorneys across the country to drop any charges against any peaceful protesters.

“Either America will destroy racism or racism will destroy America,” Crump said.

Floyd, 46, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes exactly two weeks ago.

Floyd’s death has sparked nationwide protests demanding justice and reform. Many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

His private funeral service will take place on Tuesday.

4 p.m. -- Reverend Al Sharpton has arrived to the Fountain of Praise church for the public viewing of George Floyd.

Sharpton, along with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, visited with Floyd’s family earlier on Monday.

Sharpton will give a eulogy Tuesday at a private funeral service planned for Floyd.

3 p.m. -- In the sweltering heat, mourners have waited hours to enter the Fountain of Praise church to pay respects at the casket of George Floyd.

KHOU has reported that at least 30 people have been treated for heat-related illnesses as people continue to wait in line outside the public viewing. The TV station said the Houston Fire Department has set up tents to treat anyone feeling sick.

Mourners told KPRC, KSAT’s sister station in Houston that the line “is worth the wait.”

The public viewing will last until 6 p.m. but it is unclear if doors will remain open late, considering the church opened earlier than expected.

2:30 p.m. -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said City Hall will light up in crimson and gold Monday night to honor George Floyd, according to the Houston Chronicle. Those are the school colors of Floyd’s alma mater Jack Yates High School.

Turner told reporters this memorial “does feel different" but added there’s still work to be done.

“That’s refreshing. And there’s optimism in this because people are responding and time will tell if those responses will be meaningful, impactful and holistic," Turner told the Houston newspaper.

1:30 p.m. -- Presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump met with the family of George Floyd in private Monday as thousands of mourners attended a public viewing.

Sharpton shared a photo of the meeting just before 1 p.m. Monday.

Earlier Monday, Biden tweeted: “American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending. But we have the power to write the future we want for this nation. Don’t let anyone tell you differently."

Biden will provide a video message for Floyd’s private funeral on Tuesday.

12:45 p.m. -- Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters Monday he will work with legislators to “make sure we never have anything like this occur in the state of Texas," referring to the death of George Floyd.

Abbot made the comments after he paid respects to Floyd at his public viewing in Houston.

“This is the most horrific tragedy I’ve ever personally observed ... George Floyd has not died in vain,” Abbott told reporters outside the church. “His life will be a living legacy.”

Abbott said he wants to ensure police departments have adequate training and that the “training is done repeatedly.”

Abbott left the viewing to meet with Floyd’s family in private.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee also visited Floyd’s casket on Monday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott passes by the casket of George Floyd during a public visitation for Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church, Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

Noon -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott paid his respects to George Floyd on Monday by attending his public viewing, KPRC, KSAT’s sister station, reported.

Abbott was seen bowing his head before Floyd’s gold-colored casket.

He is among a stream of mourners who are lining up outside the church and in designated shuttle pickup areas.

Mourners are guided into the Fountain of Praise Church during a public visitation for George Floyd Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (Godofredo A. Vsquez, Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool) (Copyright 2020 Godofredo A. Vásquez/HOUSTON CHRONICLE. All rights reserved.)

11:25 a.m. -- Mourners have started to filter into the Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where a public viewing for George Floyd is being held.

You can view a livestream of the public viewing in the video player above.

Mourners are required to wear a mask and gloves and must practice social distancing, to comply with coronavirus-related guidelines.

Outside the church, large floral arrangement with the initials “BLM” for Black Lives Matter greet mourners. Another arrangement made from red roses appears to have the shape of a raised fist.

Flowers are laid in the church during a public visitation for George Floyd at the Fountain of Praise church Monday, June 8, 2020, in Houston. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool)

11 a.m. -- George Floyd’s gold-colored casket has arrived for a public viewing where hundreds, if not thousands, are expected to pay their respects at the Fountain of Praise church.

Ahead of the viewing that starts at noon, people have already lined up at the FountainLife Center and Kingdom Builders Center, where they will be shuttled to the viewing.

11 a.m. -- Democrats on Monday proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures in response to the death of George Floyd and nationwide protests.

Before announcing the legislation, House and Senate Democrats held a moment of silence, read the names of those killed in police interactions, and knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds and limit legal protections, among other reforms.

Democrats unveil police overhaul, kneel at Capitol

9:40 a.m. -- A line outside FountainLife Center in Houston is beginning to grow with mourners waiting to pay respects to George Floyd.

According to KPRC, KSAT’s sister station in Houston, people are waiting to be shuttled to the Fountain of Praise church. A public viewing is slated to begin at noon Monday.

8:45 a.m. -- Top Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York will host a moment of silence for George Floyd in Washington D.C., followed by the unveiling of legislation to combat police brutality.

Pelosi said last week that the legislation, put forth by the Congressional Black Caucus, would include provisions to end racial profiling, the use of excessive force and qualified immunity for police offices.

“We want to see this as a time where we can go forward in a very drastic way. Not incrementally, but in an important way to redress those problems,” she said last week.

The moment of silence will last for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the exact time that now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Photos: People around the world protest racial injustice, police brutality following George Floyd’s death

7 a.m. -- Houston is preparing for hundreds of mourners with a six-hour viewing of George Floyd’s casket on Monday.

The viewing, which is open to the public, will be held from noon-6 p.m. at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Floyd’s hometown.

It will be attended by Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney Benjamin Crump, Slim Thug, Leela James, Paul Wall, Floyd Mayweather, Congressman Al Green, Bishop James Dixon, and more. Additional guests are being confirmed by the family.

Former Vice President and the presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to travel to Houston to meet with Floyd’s family and will provide a video message for his funeral service.

Police back off as peaceful protests push deep reforms

The viewing will not be ticketed, but guests must wear a mask and gloves to enter the memorial to comply with coronavirus guidelines. Fifteen guests will be allowed inside at a time and they cannot stay longer than 10 minutes after viewing the casket.

It is the final public memorial before Floyd will be buried Tuesday at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery. Previous ceremonies have taken place at Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina.

‘Get your knee off our necks!': Floyd mourned in Minneapolis

Floyd’s death has sparked nationwide protests demanding justice and reform. Many officers took a less aggressive stance over the weekend when demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful.

Floyd, 46, died after a white Minneapolis officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes exactly two weeks ago. The findings of an autopsy supported by his family revealed he died from asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

As a result, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council vowed to dismantle its 800-member police department.


About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.