June 6, 2020 | 3:33pm | Updated June 6, 2020 | 7:39pm
Soaring gospel music filled the air Saturday as loved ones paid tribute to “gentle giant” George Floyd in Raeford, NC, near his hometown of Fayetteville.
Cries of “God bless your hearts!” and “Hallelujah!” echoed through Cape Fear Conference B Church in tribute to Floyd, 46, whose murder at the hands of a Minneapolis cop sparked nationwide protests and calls for social justice and police reform.
The nearly three-hour service preached hope and joy, with a parade of eulogists declaring “God is on our side” and that Floyd “put love back into the world.”
But one family speaker noted, “Just like the coronavirus, police brutality has yet to find a cure.”
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin told the attendees, “Don’t let the life of George Floyd be in vain. It’s become a sacrifice. We [law enforcement] are part of the problem.” He added there are plenty of good police officers “but we need to take out the trash.”
Another speaker remarked that there are people who believe in Sasquatch, but won’t admit racism exists in America.
About 125 people, many in masks and fanning themselves in the heat, watched solemnly during the private service as Floyd’s family and clergy marched down the aisle of the Baptist church in Raeford, where Floyd’s sister, Bridgett, lives. Floyd’s other sisters, Zsa-Zsa and LaTonya, were among the family members who dressed in white for the memorial service.
Mourners numbering in the thousands gathered outside for hours beforehand.
The Floyd family was presented with a flag that had flown over the state Capitol.
A motorcycle group arrives to pay its respects to George Floyd today.
AFP via Getty Images
Hundreds of cars line up as mourners arrive for the public viewing of George Floyd.
Mourners arrive for George Floyd’s viewing and memorial service today.
AFP via Getty Images
The casket carrying the body of George Floyd is brought inside for his memorial services at R.L Douglas Cape Fear Conference B – The United American Free Will Baptist Denomination today.
Nakia Almond hugs Erin Corner after they prayed just after viewing the body of George Floyd.
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“Some death ain’t about dying. Some death is about waking all of us up,” said Jeremy Collins, a representative for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
The attendees entered to “I Shall Wear a Crown,” whose opening verse notes, “Watch ye, therefore, you know not the day, When the Lord shall call your soul away, If you labor, strivin’ for the right, You shall wear a robe and crown.”
Rev. C. David Stackhouse said the Floyd family had underscored to him the importance of peacefully adhering to the Lord’s word.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) told attendees, “We know our community and nation are hurting . . .Together we can act . . . This is an opportunity that we’ve never had as a country. Now is our opportunity and we have to seize it.”
Floyd’s final two memorial services will be held in Texas on Monday and Tuesday. It’s part of a series of events marking Floyd’s life and his significance in galvanizing national protests against racial inequality and police brutality.
Chants of “black power” and “no justice, no peace” rang out as the hearse bearing Floyd’s coffin arrived at the church around 9 a.m., according to NBC affiliate WRAL in Raleigh.
Floyd’s Memorial Day death under the knee of white officer Derek Chauvin has prompted rioting and looting in many cities, and large demonstrations around the world Saturday that were mostly peaceful.