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George Floyd remembered as a 'powerful man' during Minneapolis memorial

June 4 (UPI) -- George Floyd's family praised him as a "powerful man" who "would stand up for injustice anywhere" during his memorial Thursday in Minneapolis.

The service, which was broadcast on television and live streamed online, began at 1 p.m. at the North Central University sanctuary.

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George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, described his brother as "powerful," and said he "had a way with words."

"Guys that was doing drugs, smokers and homeless people -- you couldn't tell because when you spoke to George, they felt ... like they were the president, because that is how he made you feel.

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"Every day, he walks outside, there'd be a line of people, just like when we came in, wanting to greet him and wanting to have fun with him."

His younger brother, Rodney Floyd, said George Floyd taught him how to be a man.

George Floyd "was doing the best that he can and the mistakes that he made and watching him, correcting myself as a teenager growing up. And learning from him how to be a man."

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He "would stand up for injustice anywhere."

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Floyd's family, also eulogized George Floyd.

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Crump compared the national attention placed on George Floyd's death to that of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd. I want to make it clear on the record. The other pandemic that we're far too familiar with in America, the pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd."

Sharpton said he "did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction."

He said the United States has kept its knee on the neck of black Americans for more than 400 years, invoking the image of the officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck, leading to his death.

"We were smarter than the underfunded schools you put us in but you had your knee on our neck. We could run corporations and not hustle in the streets, but you had your knee on our neck. We had creative skills, we could do whatever anybody else could do, but we couldn't get your knee off our neck.

"What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country, in education, in health services and in every area of American life. It is time for us to stand up in George's name and say 'get your knee off our necks,'" Sharpton said.

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The famed civil rights activist then announced plans for a march on Washington organized by the families of those grieving the deaths of loved ones, such as George Floyd, on Aug. 28, the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington when Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his now-iconic "I have a dream" speech before the Lincoln memorial.

"We're going back this Aug. 28, to restore and recommit that dream," he said. "To stand up, because just like at one era we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal with policing and criminal justice. We need to go back to Washington and stand up -- black, white, Latino, Arab -- in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them this is the time to stop this."

Minneapolis police attempted to arrest George Floyd on May 25 after receiving a report that he'd passed a counterfeit bill at a store. He died after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed down onto his neck for several minutes. Four officers involved in the arrest have been charged.

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Crump tweeted Wednesday that Floyd's family is relieved that the officers will be prosecuted.

"This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd," he said. "We are deeply gratified that [Minnesota] Attorney General Keith Ellison took decisive action in this case, arresting and charging all the officers involved in George Floyd's death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder."

Floyd's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Houston, his hometown.

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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