The Latest: College police chief fired for comments on Floyd
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— George Floyd, whose death energized a movement, to be buried outside Houston.
— Biden calls for racial justice in message to mourners at the funeral of George Floyd.
— National Guard members at Washington protests test positive for coronavirus.
— Houston mayor to ban chokeholds by police.
TROY, Ala. —Troy University has fired its campus police chief over comments he made on social media about the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins says in a statement released on the school’s social media accounts that statements by John McCall didn’t reflect the university’s values. He says officials lost confidence in McCall’s ability to lead the Police Department.
News outlets report that McCall wrote in a Facebook post that Floyd “absolutely” helped cause his own death.
One former Minneapolis police officer is charged with murder in Floyd’s death and three others are charged with aiding in his death.
DENVER — A sweeping police accountability bill introduced amid protests over the death of George Floyd has passed the Colorado state Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Senators from both parties spoke at length on Tuesday about the compromises that went into the bill before backing it in a 32-1 vote.
The bill was changed in response to some issues raised by law enforcement. It would allow police officers to be sued for misconduct by getting rid of the qualified immunity defense that generally protects government workers from lawsuits. It also requires all local and Colorado State Patrol officers to be equipped with body cameras by July 2023.
HOUSTON — The funeral of George Floyd has ended, and his casket is on its way to a Texas cemetery for burial.
After emotional tributes from Floyd’s family, a song from Ne-Yo, a recorded message from Joe Biden and a eulogy from the Rev. Al Sharpton, Floyd’s golden casket was carried on the shoulders of pall bearers out of Fountain of Praise church in Houston.
Many in the family section of the church held out their hands in the direction of the casket as it departed, as the hymn “I Shall Wear a Crown” rang through the church. Others held up their phones to film it.
The more than 500 face-masked mourners in the congregation for the four-hour service included actors Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, and J.J. Watt of the NFL’s Houston Texans.
The service and upcoming burial bring to a close nearly a week of memorials and remembrances of Floyd, whose death at the hands of police in Minneapolis inspired protests around the world.
WASHINGTON — Members of the D.C. National Guard have tested positive for COVID-19 in the wake of the massive protests across the city last week over the death of George Floyd.
Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Brooke Davis says they will not release the exact number of infected troops.
But U.S. officials say they believe it is not a large number, at least so far. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information publicly.
While some Guard troops responding to the protests wore protective equipment, most were not wearing masks and it was largely impossible to maintain any social distancing.
Davis said in a statement that unit commanders were responsible for ensuring their troops adhered to guidelines calling for Guard members to wear protective equipment and maintain social distancing where practical.
Officials said about 5,000 Guard members, including troops from 11 states, were in the nation’s capital for the protests.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A main thoroughfare in Charlotte was painted with bright colors Tuesday morning as dozens of volunteers and artists traced 16 large letters spelling out “Black Lives Matter.”
Charlotte follows Washington, D.C. and other American cities calling for an end to police brutality and racial injustice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
Charlotte resident D’ann Redd said she never thought she’d see something like the mural in her southern city. She said it was good to see the community join together and say black lives matter in a very public way and to have people connected.
The project was approved by the City of Charlotte.
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council declined calls to cut police funding and has approved a city budget that includes an increase for the department.
The decision came at a meeting Monday in which the majority of some 400 callers and emails from more than 4,000 people urged rejection of the mayor’s plan to increase the police budget by $27 million to $566 million.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the council approved the budget plan on an 8-1 vote.
The pressure to cut the police budget echoed calls nationwide for defunding or cutting law enforcement budgets in protest of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.
PEARLAND, Texas -- People are being allowed to walk up to the mausoleum in suburban Houston where George Floyd’s body is set to be entombed.
Some people took photos Tuesday as they got a closer look at the site in the cemetery in Pearland, Texas. Floyd’s funeral was ongoing at a church in Houston, where he lived most of his life. A private service at the cemetery was set to be held for Floyd’s family after his casket arrives. Inside the mausoleum, a small podium was set up along with 24 chairs in three rows. Outside the mausoleum in the back, another 42 chairs were set up underneath a tent.
___ HOUSTON — Pastor Steve Wells told mourners at George Floyd’s funeral that they have “awakened the conscience of a nation.”
Wells thanked the audience at the predominantly black Fountain of Praise church in Houston on Tuesday for inviting him, a white speaker, to address them.
He drew laughs and shouts when he said they might have to be forgiven for leaving white people off the program and drew a standing ovation when he said predominantly white churches like his must act now, that their conscience has been stirred, to end the racism he says killed Floyd.
Another pastor, Ralph Douglas West Sr., compared Floyd to Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, saying all three were born in obscurity but went on to change the world.
ROME — Dozens of young Catholics gathered at nightfall on a small island in the Tiber River in Rome to pray for peaceful co-existence in the United States.
Then, clutching lit candles, participants knelt on one knee in the tiny cobblestone square outside St. Bartholomew’s Basilica during several minutes of silence Tuesday evening as George Floyd’s funeral was taking place in Houston.
The brief commemoration, called to stress the need to combat all forms of racism, social discrimination and violence, was organized by Young People for Peace. The youth movement has ties to a Rome-based Catholic organization with close relations with the Vatican.
HOUSTON — Grammy-winning singer Ne-Yo said George Floyd’s death was a sacrifice that “changed the world” before performing during his memorial service.
Ne-Yo shed tears on Tuesday while singing a rendition of G.C. Cameron’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” The singer paused on a few occasions to collect himself during his performance.
“Fifty states are protesting at the same time,” he said. “This man changed the world. He changed the world for the better. I would like to personally thank George Floyd for his sacrifice, so that my kids could be all right later on. I appreciate the sacrifice. I genuinely do.”
HOUSTON -- The family of George Floyd gave him tearful tributes and made impassioned demands for justice at his funeral.
The group of family members and close friends gathered around the podium at Fountain of Praise church in Houston and stepped up one at a time to talk about about their lost loved one.
Aunt Kathleen McGee laughed as she remembered the child family knew as Perry Jr., calling him a “pesky little rascal, but we loved him.”
Sister LaTonya Floyd was almost too overwhelmed to talk, wiping away tears and lowering her face mask to say “I’m going to miss my brother a whole lot and I love you. And I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”
Brooke Williams, a niece of Floyd, called for change to what she called “a corrupt and broken system.”
Two brothers and a close friend also spoke to mourn Floyd, whose death last month after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on his neck for over eight minutes has inspired worldwide protests.
HOUSTON — Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee says George Floyd’s death ignited a plethora of protests around the world involving people of different races.
Lee said during Floyd’s memorial service on Tuesday that his death helped shine a light on police brutality against unarmed black men and women.
“I want to acknowledge those young marchers in the streets,” she said. “Many of them could not be in this place. They are black and brown, they are Asian. They are white. They are protesting and marching. And I’m saying as a momma, ‘I hear your cry.’ That is what George Floyd wanted us to know.”
Lee said she is unable to remove the Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe” from her head. But the congresswoman said his death served a purpose.
“His assignment turned into a purpose,” she said. “And that purpose was heard around the world. There are people rising up that will never sit down until you get justice.”
PEARLAND, Texas — Hundreds of people have lined up in the Texas heat along a road in suburban Houston that leads to the cemetery where George Floyd will be buried.
Many arrived hours ahead of time in Pearland, Texas, to get a spot Tuesday as they waited for the procession to come by after Floyd’s funeral ends at a church in Houston.
There was no shade along the procession route in Pearland and a heat advisory was issued for the area with temperatures in the 90s.
Marcus Brooks and a group of friends and graduates of Jack Yates High School, where Floyd graduated, set up a tent by the grassy side of the road. The 47-year-old Brooks said he had the tent specially created in crimson and gold, the colors of Yates High School, where Floyd played tight end. Past and present members of the football team signed the tent.
“We’re out here for a purpose,” Brooks said. “That purpose is because first of all he’s our brother. Second, we want to see change. I don’t want to see any black man, any man, but most definitely not a black man sitting on the ground in the hands of bad police.”
HOUSTON — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced that he will sign an executive order that bans chokeholds in the city.
Turner’s announcement Tuesday came during the funeral for George Floyd at a church in Houston, the city where he lived most of his life.
“In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot,” Turner said. “In this city you have a duty to intervene.”
The sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, earlier in the day said his office will immediately implement a new “duty to report” policy for deputies and increase audits of use of tasers and body cameras. Sheriff Ed Gonzales announced the directives in a series of tweets.
Gonzalez said his office already prohibits the use of chokeholds
HOUSTON — Joe Biden called for racial justice in a message to mourners at the funeral of George Floyd.
The former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee spoke via video at Floyd’s funeral on Tuesday, a day after he met privately with Floyd’s family.
Biden said in his recorded remarks that “when we get justice for George Floyd we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,” adding a message to Floyd’s daughter by saying, “Then, Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”
More than 500 mourners gathered for the service at Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where Floyd was raised.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The police department in St. Petersburg has updated its conduct policy to require officers to speak up and intervene when a colleague violates laws and policies.
St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway announced at a press conference that he changed the policy after conferring with community members.
“If they see someone violating the law, an ordinance or a policy or procedure they will intervene,” Holloway said. “They’ll go over and say ‘Hey stop doing this.’”
Miami-Dade commissioners are considering reviving an oversight panel for their police department.
In the Orlando area, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office now have a duty to intervene “if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary or disproportionate use of force,” according to the agency’s recently updated use of force policy.
HOUSTON — The sheriff of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, says his office will immediately implement increased audits on the use of tasers and body cameras.
Sheriff Ed Gonzales announced the directives in a series of tweets as Houston prepared for the funeral of George Floyd.
Gonzalez says his office already prohibits the use of chokeholds, but he’d make it clearer in policy. Gonzales says he supports law enforcement reform, but disagrees with “defunding,” which calls for some police resources to be spent on social services.
The sheriff says he’d advocate for better pay for law enforcement to attract better candidates.
“Mr. Floyd’s death reminds us that much work remains to be done,” Gonzalez tweeted. “We must build momentum toward a more effective, equitable and thoughtful approach to law enforcement.”
HOUSTON — The black man whose death has inspired a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice will be buried Tuesday in Houston, carried home in a horse-drawn carriage.
George Floyd, 46, will be laid to rest next to his mother. As a white police officer pressed a knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes on May 25 in Minneapolis, the dying man cried out for his mother.
His funeral will be private. A public memorial service was held Monday in Houston, where he grew up. Some 6,000 people attended.
Under a blazing Texas sun, several mourners waiting to pay their respects wore T-shirts with Floyd’s picture or the words “I Can’t Breathe” — which he cried out repeatedly while pinned down by the police officer. Floyd’s body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-colored casket.
Shorty after the memorial ended, Floyd’s casket was placed in a hearse and escorted by police back to a funeral home.