Floyd’s casket arrives at Houston church for public viewing

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FILE – In this Monday, June 1, 2020 file photo, protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died outside Cup Foods on East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. The deaths of Floyd and other black men at the hands of Minneapolis police have exacerbated the corrosive relationship between people of color and a criminal justice system they feel is stacked against them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

HOUSTON (AP) — The body of George Floyd arrived at a church Monday in Houston for a final public memorial for the man whose death at the hands of police in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world and calls to reform policing in America.

His body arrived in a gold-colored casket that was escorted to The Fountain of Praise church by Houston police. A six-hour viewing that is open to the public was scheduled to begin in the afternoon.

Before the casket arrived, workers outside the church assembled a large floral arrangement with white roses on one side in the shape of a heart and with the initials “BLM” for Black Lives Matter created from blue roses and placed on top of the heart. The other side of the floral arrangement was made up of red roses and appeared to be in the shape of a raised fist.

Mourners will be required to wear a mask and gloves to comply with coronavirus-related guidelines.

Floyd’s funeral will be Tuesday, followed by burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in suburban Pearland, where he will be laid to rest next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd.

George Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped responding. His death has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system.

Former Vice President Joe Biden plans to travel to Houston to meet with Floyd’s family and will provide a video message for Floyd’s funeral service. A Biden aide on Sunday described the plans of the Democratic presidential candidate. They did not include attending the service.

Biden expects to give the family his condolences, said the aide, who discussed Biden’s plans on condition of anonymity.

Previous memorials have taken place in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, near where Floyd was born. At the Minneapolis tribute Thursday, those in attendance stood in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned to the ground under the officer’s knee.

Floyd was raised in Houston’s Third Ward and was a well-known former high school football player who rapped with local legend DJ Screw. He moved to Minneapolis several years ago to seek work and a fresh start. His face now appears on a mural in his old neighborhood, and his name was chanted by tens of thousands last week at a protest and march in downtown Houston.

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Associated Press reporter Will Weissert in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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