HOUSTON – Civil Rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and Attorney Ben Crump joined the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Eric Garner and others Monday evening outside the public memorial of George Floyd to address mourners.
“Either America will destroy racism or racism will destroy America," an impassioned Crump said.
Sharpton, who will deliver a eulogy for Floyd Tuesday at his funeral in Houston, introduced his brothers, Philonise “PJ" Floyd and Rodney Floyd, who remembered their brother as a “gentle giant" and a loving father.
Philonise Floyd said his brother was a role model for many people when they were growing up in Houston’s Third Ward, as he was the first among their friends to get a scholarship to play basketball.
“I appreciate everybody coming out. It just hurts a lot. Just being here, just talking,” said Philonise Floyd.
As he named other high profile victims of racially motivated crimes — Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and Ahmaud Arbery, among others — Philonise Floyd broke down in tears and was held up by the support of Sharpton and Crump.
“If (George Floyd) was told he would have to sacrifice his life to bring the world together, knowing him, I know he would have did it," Rodney Floyd said.
Both brothers thanked the mourners for turning out in huge numbers to honor George Floyd and for fighting to change racial inequities and police brutality.
Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, another man who was killed at the hands of police in 2014 while saying he couldn’t breathe, took the podium and urged protesters to continue fighting even after the cameras were off.
“You are paying your respects but the most respect you can pay is to help this family,” Carr said. “This is what I tell this family. Don’t stop fighting. We all have to keep fighting.”
Ahmaud Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., and Botham Jean’s sister, Alissa Charles-Findley, both said they were there to support the Floyd family and urged people to continue to support the family in their time of grief by not stopping the fight against racial injustice.
Family members of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were also in attendance, along with attorneys who will be working on the cases for George Floyd, Pamela Turner, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“Y’all keep fighting and we’ll keep winning,” said Attorney Chris Stuart. “The moment y’all move on with your lives, this is over.”
Attorney Antonio Romanucci took to the podium wearing a pin that said “Stop police misconduct,” that he said was designed after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson nearly six years ago.
“Derek Chauvin was not the one who killed George Floyd,” Romanucci said. “It was the Minneapolis Police Department. It was the individual police officers. It was the unions that supported all of them. That is who killed George Floyd.”
Crump also said he would be calling on Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg and other DAs around the country to drop charges against protesters who were arrested during peaceful protests in the last two weeks.