Washington, June 9, 2020
The funeral for George Floyd is due to get under way on Tuesday in Texas, as protests have continued around the country against police violence, and lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels have been moving ahead with plans for reforms.
The funeral is to be a private affair in Houston, with some 500 people in attendance, a fraction of what the hall can handle, but because of the coronavirus and social distancing, the size is being curtailed. The body is then due to be taken to a nearby city for burial.
Several national political figures and celebrities are expected to attend.
On Monday, there was a six-hour public viewing of the casket that attracted a diverse and large crowd. Memorial services where held in Minnesota last week and North Carolina over the weekend.
The death of Floyd, 46, while being detained by Minneapolis police two weeks ago has sparked a massive protest movement across the country, and around the world, as the US is again forced to consider racism and heavy-handed policing tactics.
The four officers involved in his death have been fired and arrested, one facing second-degree murder charges and the other three for aiding and abetting. They have been granted bail.
One of the most likely tactics on the chopping block is the use of chokeholds by police, which Democrats in Congress and local politicians are seeking to ban.
Protests in some cities have turned to demanding a “defunding” of police departments, an idea that largely implies reducing funding to police and redirecting the cash to social programmes.
The aim is reducing friction between communities, in particular black communities, with law enforcement.
Conservative critics and even Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have come out strongly against the idea, often saying that police need to be reformed but departments should not be shrunk, in line with what most people have said they support in recent surveys.
Regardless, the discussion is the most serious on reform and racism in years and polls indicate attitudes across the country have shifted drastically in recent years, towards supporting revamping laws and recognizing the importance of discrimination and bias.
Democrats introduced federal legislation on Monday that seeks to make the police more accountable.
President Donald Trump has continued to back law enforcement, and his administration denies there is systemic racism but has said it is open to limited reforms.
Protests have continued in numerous cities and are now largely peaceful.