Pleas for justice and poignant memories flowed in Wednesday for George Floyd, the man whose death soon after his takedown detention by police at a Minneapolis intersection led to unrest in the streets and the firings of the four officers involved.
“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” said a sister, Bridgett Floyd, in an interview on NBC-TV’s “Today.” “I don’t need them to be suspended and able to work in another state or another county. ... Their jobs should be taken, and they should be put in jail for murder.”
Referencing a witness’ video documenting the incident Monday night, when a white officer had his knee on her brother’s neck until he fell unconscious, she said that officer and the others at the scene “murdered my brother. He was crying for help.”
His sister appeared before the camera wearing a shirt reading “I can’t breathe,” which George Floyd repeated to officers while down on the pavement, an officer’s knee pinning his neck.
As of Wednesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 1.2 million times on the Facebook page of the witness who shot it. Darnella Frazier told the Star Tribune she posted the video because “the world needed to see what I was seeing.”
Police were called to a store at the corner of E. 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue on suspicion that George Floyd was trying to pass a fake $20 bill. They said the unarmed 46-year-old man from St. Louis Park was resisting arrest.
“He was a God-fearing man, regardless of what he [had] done,” Bridgett Floyd said. “We all have our faults. We all make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect.”
Outrage and tears also flowed from a onetime National Basketball Association standout who knew George Floyd back in the day in the Houston area and called him “My Twin” in a series of sometimes tearful posts on Instagram.
“Where we from not many make it out but my Twin was happy I did,” Stephen Jackson said in a posting accompanied by a photo including him, Floyd and others. “I’m gonna continue to make u proud fam. It makes me so angry that after all the things u been through when u get to your best self that they take u out like this.”
Jackson, who retired in 2015 after 14 seasons in the NBA, said Floyd was working hard making a new life for himself in Minnesota.
“I just sent him two, three boxes of clothes, and my boy was doing what he was supposed to be doing,” Jackson said. “I’m on my way to Minnesota, man. Whatever I can do. Can’t let this ride.”
A prayer vigil was held in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston. Attending was Roxie Washington, mother to their 6-year-old daughter.
Washington told the Houston Chronicle during the outdoor vigil that Floyd attended Yates High School, where he played basketball and football and later performed in the local hip-hop scene.
“It’s cruel” how he died, Washington told the Chronicle. “They took him away from my daughter.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a national civil rights leader, said in an interview that he planned to bring the Eric Garner family to Minneapolis. Garner was killed by police in 2014 in a highly publicized case in which he told officers in New York City he couldn’t breathe after he was placed in a choke hold.
“This morning, Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, and I had a phone call with the family of George Floyd to express our solidarity and resources until justice is served,” Sharpton said in a separate statement.
Sharpton said in an interview that the officers “should not only lose their jobs, they should lose their freedom. You need to keep the spotlight on this.”
In his time in Minnesota, George Floyd provided security for about five years at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis, where he came by his nickname “Big Floyd” honestly, one co-worker said.
“He was tall and muscular,” said Vernon Sawyerr, who overlapped for about four months with Floyd at Conga. “Just super kind. When you saw someone like that, he might seem imposing, but he was super sweet.”
Floyd also had similar duties at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light homeless shelter in downtown Minneapolis in 2017 and early on in 2018.
“How tragic and sad this all is,” said Brian Molohon, executive director of development for the charity’s Northern Division. “It takes a special type of person to work in an emergency shelter. It is really hard to see heartbreak and brokenness every day. I have no doubt that George, like many other shelter workers in our community, had a heart that cared for people and our community.”
Molohon said that how George Floyd died “is symptomatic of much deeper racial and socioeconomic issues in our community. We all are created with innate God-given worth and dignity.”
Staff writer Randy Furst contributed to this report.