World

Memorial service to be held for George Floyd after week of protests

Ceremony will be held in Minneapolis, the city where he died on May 25

MINNEAPOLIS: Leading American civil rights activist Al Sharpton will be holding a memorial service for Mr George Floyd after more than a week of nationwide protests over his death at the hands of a white police officer.

The ceremony will be held in Minneapolis, where Mr Floyd died on May 25 after being detained by the police.

Rev Sharpton, who will give the eulogy for Mr Floyd, met with his family on Wednesday, AFP reported.

"Tomorrow we will lay out how we will mobilise nationally in the name of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more," he said on Twitter, referring to a black jogger who was shot dead in February and a black medical worker killed by the police in her own apartment in March.

Hundreds of people were expected to turn up for the memorial service. Services will also be held tomorrow in Hoke County, North Carolina, where Mr Floyd's sister lives, and in Houston on Monday, near where Mr Floyd lived, media reported.

Mr Floyd's death has elicited such outrage across the country it has pushed fears of a global pandemic into the background.

"We have to be united, even with Covid," said Mr Yousif Hussein, 29, who was planning to attend the memorial, told The New York Times.

"I have to show solidarity with George Floyd," he added, outside the corner market in midtown Minneapolis where Mr Floyd made his final gasps.

Rev Sharpton said he will announce a new social movement at the memorial service and would call for federal legislation aimed at putting an end to racial injustice by the police.

On Wednesday, Mr Quincy Mason, 27, the son of Mr Floyd, for the first time visited the site where his father was pinned to the ground, NYT reported, dropping to one knee on a chalk drawing depicting Mr Floyd's body with wings and a crown and the words, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe".

"My father should not have been killed like this," Mr Mason said.

Meanwhile, pressure on President Donald Trump has mounted as his former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis accused him of trying to divide America. Mr Mattis called Trump "the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people - does not even pretend to try".

"Instead, he tries to divide us," the retired Marine general said in a blistering statement posted online by The Atlantic.

"We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership," said Mr Mattis, who described himself as "angry and appalled" after witnessing events of the last week, which saw Mr Trump threaten a military crackdown on nationwide protests.

Retired Marine Corps General John Allen echoed Gen Mattis' criticism. "To even the casual observer, Monday was awful for the US and its democracy," the former commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan wrote in Foreign Policy.

Mr Trump hit back on Twitter, calling Mr Mattis "the world's most overrated General".

WORLD