The brother of police-involved murder victim George Floyd was cheered — and Mayor Bill de Blasio was roundly jeered — during Thursday’s memorial to Floyd at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza.
More than 5,000 people participated in the peaceful afternoon event dedicated to Floyd, who died at the hands of four Minneapolis Police Department officers in a May 25 incident. A video showing an officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck, slowly choking him to death, went viral and sparked more than a week of protests across the nation from those seeking an end to police brutality and racial injustice.
Terrence Floyd, George’s brother, spoke toward the conclusion of the event, which began as George was remembered at a Minneapolis funeral service. As he took the microphone in Brooklyn, Terrence was greeted by chants of, “You are not alone.”
“I was mad, I was upset, but I want to thank God. It wasn’t His fault. It was His purpose, his will. It took me a few days to come to that realization,” said Terrence Floyd, a Brooklyn resident. “Because at the end of the day, my brother is gone, but the Floyd name still lives on.”
While expressing gratitude to the city for their support, he condemned the violence that has occurred during and after the protests nationwide.
“I’m proud of the protests, but I’m not proud of the destruction,” he said. “My brother wasn’t about that.”
On the other hand, Mayor Bill de Blasio — facing criticism for police actions during the protest and arriving with his wife, Chirlane McCray, 20 minutes late — was resoundingly booed when he spoke at the rally. He ran through his remarks quickly amid the chorus of jeers, promising change in the city and the NYPD.
“To everybody, here is what we must resolve: George Floyd cannot have been allowed to have died in vain. We have to make a change in this city and country,” de Blasio said. “For all of us who have not walked a mile in the shoes of the Black community, we need to do more because we don’t even fully recognize the daily pain that the racism in this society causes. We need to do more, and we will.”
The memorial, organized by Reverend Kevin McCall, included speeches from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez, and Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
McCall urged the crowd not to use the memorial as a means to protest the police, and to respect the speakers.
Some attendees at the vigil expressed that the reasons for their participation were deeply personal.
“Every time the police lock up a minority, there ends up being a death,” said Canarsie resident Damion Terrell. “It’s been a hectic week because I lost my grandmother, and then this [happened].”
“I haven’t slept. I’m a mother and I do have a son,” said Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Kayla Morrison, “and I have nephews, and they have all been victims of police incompetence and police brutality on some level.”
De Blasio’s speech was totally drowned out by boos, and I’m standing in the front. The crowd went absolutely wild for Public Advocate Jumanne Williams’ speech pic.twitter.com/hTFL0Hayuf
— Rose Adams (@rose_n_adams) June 4, 2020