Gov. Greg Abbott traveled to Houston on Monday to attend the public visitation of George Floyd, a black man who was killed recently in Minneapolis police custody. Abbott told reporters afterward that Floyd’s death was “the most horrific tragedy I’ve ever personally observed” and signaled an openness to pursuing policing reforms in the future.
Abbott also told reporters that he was heading to meet with Floyd's family privately.
Floyd, whose death has sparked protests across the state and nation in recent days, was a longtime resident of Houston’s historically black Third Ward before moving to Minneapolis a few years ago, according to The Houston Chronicle. Floyd died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck until he lost consciousness and for minutes afterward. He was 46. Protesters in Texas have invoked his death, along with local police shooting deaths, to call for reforms in policing.
Thousands are expected to attend Monday’s public visitation of Floyd, which is being held Monday afternoon at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. Floyd is set to be buried in Houston next to his mother on Tuesday after a private memorial service, according to ABC13.
“Today is a sad day. Ever since his death has been a sad day,” Abbott said, adding he would express his condolences to the family and give them a flag flown over the Texas Capitol in Floyd’s honor.
"George Floyd has not died in vain," Abbott said. "His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas responds to this tragedy. I’m here to tell you today that I am committed to working with the family of George Floyd, to ensure we never have anything like this ever occur in the state of Texas."
Abbott said that "discussions about the pathway forward" would not be taken over by lawmakers, but would be spearheaded by family members, victims and others "who have suffered because of racism for far too long."
"Several things are already beginning to change," Abbott said in response to a reporter question. "When we get to the Texas Legislature, discussions have already begun. Remember this: Texas has a legacy of success, whether it be the Timothy Cole Act, the Sandra Bland Act and now maybe the George Floyd Act to make sure that we prevent police brutality like this from happening in the future in Texas."