George Floyd Memorial: Rev. Al Sharpton Encourages World to Stand in Silence for 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds
By Desiree Murphy
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Following days of nationwide protests, George Floyd's family and friends will now get to celebrate his life.
The first in a series of memorial services honoring the 46-year-old man, who died on May 25 while in police custody, began Thursday at North Central University's Frank J. Lindquist Sanctuary in Minneapolis.
The service opened with a scripture reading from Rev. Jerry McAfee, pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church. It was followed up with the announcement of a scholarship fund established in Floyd's name from Dr. Scott Hagan, president of North Central University.
"It is time to invest like never before in a new generation of black Americans," Hagan exclaimed. "University presidents, let's step up together."
Attorney Benjamin Crump then took the podium to introduce the "ones who knew George all his life," his family. Floyd's brother, Philonise, was the first to speak, sharing a story about what it was like growing up together.
"We didn't have much. My mom did what she could. We would sleep in the same beds, play video games together, go outside and play catch with the football ... dancing, cooking with our mom, it was a family thing," he shared. "From being in the house with my brother, it was inspiring to other people because my mom used to take in other kids; most of them were George's friends. They wanted to stay with her, they loved her, and George was OK with it."
"George was like a general," he added. "Every day he walked outside, there was a line of people who wanted to greet him and have fun with him. When they spoke to George, they felt like they were the president, because that's how he made you feel. Everybody loved George ... it's amazing to see how many hearts he's touched."
"It's crazy—all these people came to see my brother. That's amazing to me, that he touched so many people's hearts. Because he's been touching our hearts."
Floyd's youngest brother, Rodney, spoke similar words, thanking the city of Minneapolis for all the support that's been shown to their family.
"We didn't have much but we had a household of love," he said. "I appreciate everyone from Minneapolis. You adopted my brother and showed him love. It's great love we're receiving. I wish he was here in the present to see it."
Rev. Al Sharpton, who told reporters earlier this week that "we must turn this moment into a movement," spoke next, reiterating the fact that "George Floyd should not be among the deceased. He did not die of common health conditions; he died of common criminal [police] malfunction."
"Let us stand for what is right," he added. "It's time for us to stand in George's name and say, 'Get your knee off our necks!'"
Toward the end of the eulogy, those in attendance sang and clapped along to Hezekiah Walker's "Every Praise." Sharpton then asked the crowd, as well as everyone watching at home, to stand in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of Floyd.
"As you go through these long eight minutes, think about what George was going through," Sharpton said. "We can't let this go. We can't keep living like this."
"Get some rest, George," he added. "You changed the world, George."
Memorial services for Floyd will continue over the next few days in Raeford, North Carolina (the state where he was born), and Houston, Texas, which he called home, as he and his family moved there when he was young. Floyd briefly left Houston for a few years to play basketball at South Florida State College, and then moved to Minneapolis several years ago in search of a better life.
Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin told CNN that a public viewing will take place Saturday in Raeford, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters, followed by a private service for family at 3 p.m.
Then, on Monday, a funeral procession will be held for Floyd in Houston. Many of his family members are expected to attend, along with Wanda Cooper, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, TMZ reports.
Another public memorial will take place Tuesday in Houston from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Fountain of Praise Church. An additional private service scheduled for that day will be held at an undisclosed location.
As ET previously reported, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced in a press conference on Wednesday that he was increasing former officer Derek Chauvin's murder charge to second-degree murder. Chauvin was the officer who was seen on video holding Floyd down by the neck with his knee for more than seven minutes, after Floyd was arrested for suspicion of forgery outside a deli.
Ellison also announced on Wednesday that the three other Minneapolis police officers who were fired for their involvement in Floyd's death -- Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao -- have been charged with aiding and abetting murder.