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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Funeral for George Floyd in Houston. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 9, 2020 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REMUS WRIGHT, SENIOR PASTOR, FOUNTAIN OF PRAISE CHURCH: I tell her all the time she is Houston's modern-day Mahalia Jackson. Amen. She empties churches all across the country with her anointed gift.
At this time, we're honored to have our dignitary speak. And before they come, the names on the program, I want to ask all the people, the political dignitaries that we have in Houston for you to stand just for a moment.
I saw Commissioner Rodney Ellis and so many others, Chief Acevado.
WRIGHT: Yes, yes.
Former Mayor Elise Parker (ph) and so many others.
Let us thank God for your service right now.
Adrian Garcia, commissioner, each and every one.
At this time, the program calls for a video by Vice President Joe Biden. And then we will hear from our own Congressman Al Green and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and then, finally, the mayor of this fine city, Mayor Sylvester Turner, in that order.
God bless you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, everyone, on this day of prayer where we try to understand God's plan in our pain.
To George's family and friends, Jill and I know the deep hole in your hearts when you bury a piece of your soul deep in this earth. As I have said to you privately, we know. We know you will never feel the same again.
For most people, the numbness you feel now will slowly turn day after day, season after season into purpose through the memory of the one they lost. But for you, that day has come before you can fully grieve.
And unlike most you must grieve in public. It is a burden, a burden that is now your purpose to change the world for the better in the name of George Floyd.
Like so many others, I have watched with awe as you summon the absolute courage to channel God's grace and show the good man George was. The search for justice too long dormant, to move millions.
But among all the people around the world who feel connected to this tragedy are the ones that lost something that can never, ever be replaced.
To George's children, and grandchild, I know you miss your dad and granddad.
Gianna, as I said to you when I saw you yesterday, you are so brave. Daddy's looking down and so proud of you.
I know you miss that bear hug that only he could give. The pure joyriding on his shoulders so you could touch the sky. The countless hours he spent playing any game you wanted because your smile, your laugh, your love is the only thing that mattered at the moment.
I know you have a lot of questions, honey. No child should have to ask questions that too many black children have had to ask for generations. Why? Why is daddy gone?
BIDEN: Looking through your eyes, we should also be asking ourselves why the answer is so often too cruel and painful.
Why in this nation do too many black Americans wake up knowing that they could lose their life in the course of just living their life? Why does justice not roll like a river of righteousness like a mighty stream? Why?
Ladies and gentlemen, we can't turn away. We must not turn away. We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism that stings at our very soul. From systemic abuse that still plagues American life.
As Thurgood Marshal once implored, quote, "America doesn't dissent from indifference, from fear, the hatred and the mistrust, we must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better."
I grew up with Catholic social doctrine that said that faith without works is dead and you will know us by what we do.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have got to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation, to so many people for so long. It's about who we are, what we believe and, maybe most importantly, who we want to be to assure that all men and women are not only created equal but are treated equally. We can heal this nation's wounds and remember its pain, not callous
the heart and forget.
I know Reverend Sharpton is there in Houston with you today.
Rev, I watched you speak from Ecclesiastes last week and in Minnesota, chapter three verse one, to everything there's a time and a purpose and a season under the heavens.
Today, now, is the time, the purpose, the season to listen and heal. Now is time for racial justice. That's the answer we must give to our children when they ask why.
Because when there's justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.
And then, as you said, Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.
BIDEN: May God be with you, George Floyd, and your family.
In the words of a hymn from my church based on the 91st Psalm, may he raise you up on the wings of eagles and make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand.
God bless you all. God bless you all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX): To this family, the Floyd family, to Reverend Al Sharpton, the voice for the hopeless, help for the helpless and power to the powerless, I think you merit some love for all the things that you do.
GREEN: To Attorney Crump, who takes on the cases that many people would conclude are lost causes, but you do it and you win because you fight. I think you deserve some love.
GREEN: Just a few more. We are honored today here in the 9th congressional district to have the chairperson of the conscience of the Congress. The Honorable Karen Bass is with us. She's traversed some distance.
Would you please show her and the members of the CBC some love? Would you please stand?
This is my district. I want the Congress people here to stand please. Show them some love.
GREEN: My colleague, Jackson Lee, is here.
GREEN: Thank you.
To Mayor Turner, my dear friend and fraternity brother, to Judge Hidalgo, the commissioners, to all of the members of the council.
And I want to say a special word about another great American who's here with us today, one whose name means helper of humankind, one who was there with Dr. King, one who is a father of the civil rights movement right here in Houston, Texas, one that we know and love, the Honorable William Alexander Lawson.
GREEN: He deserves some love. He is in the house today. The Honorable William Alexander, helper of humankind, Lawson.
GREEN: I missed Commissioners Ellis and Garcia.
To you, as well, dear brothers.
To the friends and family again, I'm not here today as a Democrat. We're not here as Republicans. We're not here because we're rich or poor, not here because we're conservative or liberal.
We are here because Pastor Remus Wright was so right when he said we have no expendables in our community. George Floyd was not expendable. This is why we're here.
GREEN: His crime was that he was born black. That was his only crime.
George Floyd deserved the dignity and the respect that we accord all people because they're children of a common God. And it is very unfortunate we have to be here but we celebrate the life of George Floyd today.
GREEN: And to the family, it's important that I say this to you. We who are here today are here to say we stand with you. We will be there for you. Let's let them know they're not alone. Let's give them love and say to
this family we are here to stay. Say it for the family, please, with some love. Give them some, please. The family.
GREEN: I believe you can do it better than that. If you love the man, you know it, why don't you stand up and show it. Let's make it clear we are here for them.
GREEN: Let's make it known to the world that they
GREEN: -- are not going to suffer because we are going to support them.
GREEN: And finally this. Members of Congress have the privilege of having flags flown over the capitol. We do it for important occasions, important people. But I want you to know this. I had this flag flown over the capitol because I want the United States of America to respect George Floyd.
GREEN: That's why this flag was flown. I want the United States of America to show him the respect that he richly earned simply because he was born in this country, because he's a human being, and because he is not expendable! That's why this flag was flown.
GREEN: And I have a resolution that will be presented to the family. And this resolution will become a part of the records of the Congress of the United States of America.
GREEN: This resolution is going to say to those who look through the vista of time that, at this time, there lived one among us who was a child of God, who was taken untimely. But we are going to make sure that those who look through time, that they will know that he made a difference within his time. Because he changed, not only this country, not only the United States, he changed the world!
GREEN: George Floyd changed the world.
GREEN: And we are going to make the world know that he made a difference.
GREEN: Dear brothers and sisters, we have a duty, responsibility and an obligation not to allow this to be like the other times. We have a responsibility to not only George Floyd but to all of those other PRNs, Breonna Taylor.
GREEN: Yes. We have a responsibility to each one of them to make sure that we do not walk away today after having celebrated his life and not taking the next step to commemorate and to assure the future generations that this won't happen again. It's time.
GREEN: So brothers and sisters, the Congressional Black Caucus has done something. It's historic. The Honorable Karen Bass, under her leadership, we have now a law that makes it against the law to put your foot on the neck of a person. It's against the law!
GREEN: You can't have a no-knock law. It is against the law.
You're going to have to wear your body cameras. It's against the law.
The Congressional Black Caucus is making a difference.
But I believe there's one more thing that we ought to do to make a difference. We have got to have reconciliation. This country has not reconciled it differences with us.
GREEN: We survived slavery but we didn't reconcile.
GREEN: We survived in bitter segregation but we didn't reconcile.
GREEN: It's time for a Department of Reconciliation in the highest land, the highest office. It is time to have someone who's going to make it his or her business to seek reconciliation for black people in the United States of America every day of his life.
GREEN: That's what it is, it's all about. It is time for us to reconcile.
GREEN: We need a Department of Reconciliation.
GREEN: God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
WRIGHT: Just before Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee comes, let me tell you, we have a gate time at the cemetery for 3:00. And I want us to become conscious of the fact we have a long-drawn-out program here.
And I want to give the guest speaker an opportunity to have what he has to say and the family certainly an opportunity to say what they have to say. And the preachers that are on program to say what they have to say and asking all of you if you would just be brief, brothers and sisters, be brief.
Amen? Amen. Amen.
WRIGHT: We got to get through this.
They have to get to the cemetery before 3:00. And you know that's a long entourage going that way.
So I'm asking you to be sensitive to everybody that's coming behind you. And let's try to keep it to the two-minute rule. OK? Do as best we can.
I'll forego my remarks today. I can speak to the family at a later time and encourage them.
And I want to give an opportunity to make sure that all the family's requests are met and asking you when you come forward please, please, please be sensitive to two minutes. OK?
God bless you. God bless you. Encourage you all.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX) This is a time for the family. This is a time for the healing of the wound of the pain that no one else in this place can walk and feel at this time.
To the Floyd family, let me acknowledge your pain. Let me come as a humble servant and to be able to respect and to give dignity to the ages that the ex-slaves, descendants, have faced in this nation.
Let me heal the wound of the majority of African-American men who have suffered at the hands of a wrong mind-set, a warrior mind-set instead of a guardian of peace mind-set in the practice of law enforcement.
But it is your time today. In keeping with that moment, allow me to offer these words. We know
that, centuries ago, they took a man, wicked men, put him on the cross, and did not understand that though they were intending wickedness that out of much intention of wickedness came goodness.
Your loved one, George Floyd, the secular world failed in its duty to intervene. Failed in its duty to act. And failed in its duty to aid. But George Floyd answered the question in death.
When it was asked in Isaiah: Lord, who should I send? Oh God, have mercy on us. There was a tall man by the name of Big Floyd who stood up and said, Lord, send me.
JACKSON LEE: And so, as we come today, people of statute, those who humble themselves before God, we come to pay tribute to a man who said, send me.
And I want to acknowledge those young marchers in the streets, they -- many of them could not be in this place.
JACKSON LEE: They are black and brown. They are Asian. They are white. They are protesting and marching. And I'm saying as a mama, I hear your cry.
JACKSON LEE: That is what George Floyd wanted us to know.
And I guess he wanted us to know, family, about homes and Jack Yates.
JACKSON LEE: Somebody might have said what good comes out of Nazareth? Somebody else might have said what good comes out of Third Ward.
JACKSON LEE: I am so grateful today --
JACKSON LEE: -- to be able to say a man by the name of Big Floyd walked --
JACKSON LEE: -- amongst us down those home blocks, went on up to that crimson and red -- (APPLAUSE)
JACKSON LEE: -- and began to mentor and make a legacy that no one can deny.
JACKSON LEE: I want you to know, my friend, that as these members of Congress give me a moment, Chairwoman Karen Bass, the Congressional Black Caucus, leadership, Barbara Lee, Congressman Hank Johnson, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, Congresswoman Silvia Goss (ph), Congresswoman Debbie Haaland from New Mexico. They're across the nation.
They are here because they are honoring a brother that came out of the heart of Third Ward and Jack Yates. They are here to honor that leadership.
JACKSON LEE: So as I conclude, George Floyd was here on an assignment. It is painful to be able to accept that. I'm so sorry I know him in death. But he was here on an assignment.
Some folk on assignments only get to stay 30 years. When the wicked men thought they had done something, George Floyd took it 46 years.
He walked this journey.
JACKSON LEE: He left behind sisters and brothers who could stand up against the adversity of life when the camera came and people asked to P.J. and others: What do you want? We want justice. We want justice.
JACKSON LEE: And so, my friends, I don't know if I'll ever get eight minutes and 46 seconds, Reverend Sharpton, out of my DNA. I don't know if I'll ever be able to overcome the words, "I can't breathe." Eric Garner's mother, Trayvon Martin's mother, and all the mothers.
JACKSON LEE: I can't breathe.
What I will say is that the assignment of George Floyd and the purpose will mean there will be no more eight minutes and 46 seconds of police brutality.
JACKSON LEE: There will be no more eight minutes and 46 seconds of injustice and the mistreatment of African-American men at the hands of the laws of this nation or anyone else.
There will be no more eight minutes and 46 seconds that you will be in pain without getting justice.
His assignment turned into a purpose and that purpose was around the world that people are rising up that will never sit down until you get justice.
JACKSON LEE: And so I say to all of those who are here, to that from Senator Miles from Grant Malone, who works in this venue, all of these pastors, what we say is that we will not sit down, like Rosa Parks said, until justice comes.
And so let me make it very clear, as I go to my seat, what was done for wicked, for those who mourn that day that we know, came to a day where a man rose.
And so I say to George Floyd, it will be up to us that his purpose and his assignment for the justice of this nation, for the fact that there will never be the brutality faced by a man who says, "I can't breathe," and calls to a mama who loved him so. That is the call for all of us.
JACKSON LEE: And so as the Lord and the scripture said, when asked, who should I send, the first who said, "send me" was George Floyd. Are they going to be able, or he going to be able to have each and every one of you say, "send me"?
To God be the glory for the great things he has done. May God bless his family and God bless George Floyd and the United States of America. God bless you, and I honor you and pray for you.
We have a flag that will be given on behalf of the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
This family will receive presidential letters from former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
JACKSON LEE: Reverend, thank you for all you do. God bless you.
SYLVESTER TURNER, (D), HOUSTON MAYOR: To Reverend Al Sharpton and all of the other clergy that are here and to the Garner, Brown, Arbery, Martin family and certainly to this particular family, let me adopt and incorporate all that you've already heard into this presentation.
Let me briefly say on behalf of the city of Houston, let me thank this family for standing in the gap for your brother, your father, your cousin, your family member.
And let me thank you for your courage and your strength in representing him and representing yourselves extremely well.
And then I want to thank you on behalf of this city for seeking justice for George while at the same time asking people all around the world to do it respectfully and peacefully.
On behalf of this city, I think we owe a great deal of gratitude to this family. And I want to say thank you.
TURNER: Let me just say to you that people all over the world and elected officials on all levels are doing things that they might not have ever done, have not done, because of George.
I announced, in this city I would be creating this task force on policing reform. But at the same time, that we'll work things through and we'll get that done within a 90-day period.
But as I speak right now, the city attorney is drafting an executive order, an order that I will sign when I get back to city hall.
And what that order will say is that in this city, we will ban choke holds and strangle holds.
TURNER: In this city, we will require de-escalation.
TURNER: In this city, you have to give a warning before you shoot.
TURNER: In this city, you have a duty to intervene.
TURNER: In this city, we will require comprehensive reporting.
TURNER: In this city, you must exhaust all alternatives before shooting.
And there will be other things in this executive order.
But I want you to know, it goes beyond just policing, because I have been talking with business owners and CEOs of the last several weeks. And what I said to them, when we invest in communities that have been underserved and underinvested in, when we haven't done the investment, then you don't have to spend as much on policing, if you take the necessary funds and invest in our communities.
And so I want you to know, and this family to know that we appreciate -- we appreciate everything that you all have done.
And, lastly, I will say this. George and this family, rearing up in Houston, Third Ward, coming out of community homes --
TURNER: -- who would have thought that his name would now be mentioned in South Africa, Canada, Nairobi, Berlin, South Korea, Europe.
TURNER: A person who may not have been known by many before, but what folk meant for evil, God has turned it out for good.
TURNER: We honor him, Reverend Sharpton, not because he was perfect, but we honor him today because when he took his last breath, the rest of us will now be able to breathe.
TURNER: So, therefore, I, Sylvester Turner, mayor of the city of Houston, hereby proudly proclaim June 9th, 2020, as George Floyd Day in the city of Houston.
TURNER: To God be the glory for the good he has done.