Al Sharpton decries oppression of black Americans at Floyd memorial

“Get your knee off our necks,” says the reverend at a private ceremony that captures the nation’s mood

After ten tumultuous days across the United States, hundreds of people gathered at a private memorial service on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis for George Floyd. Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the civil rights organisation National Action Network, took the stand at the service.

Floyd died in police custody on 25 May. The killing has sparked protests worldwide against police violence and systemic racism.

Reverend Sharpton called the death emblematic of the oppression black Americans have faced since the founding of America.

“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks,” Sharpton said. “What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country – in education, in health services and in every area of American life.

“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’ ”

Mourners of all races – African American, white, Latino, Asian and Native American – gathered to show support for Floyd’s family. The ceremony in Minneapolis kicks off a four-day “celebration of life”, touching all the places Floyd called home.

Further ceremonies are planned in North Carolina and Houston over the coming days.

Ben Guarino, Washington Post

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