In the days since George Floyd’s death in police custody, his family and friends have been remembering his life.
“The thing I miss most about him is his hugs. He was just this big giant,” said a cousin, Shareeduh Tate, according to The New York Times.
Tate was one of the many who gathered Thursday in Minneapolis to remember Floyd, who lived in Houston before moving to the Minnesota city in 2014 in hope of a better life.
Floyd died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes as Floyd lay handcuffed on a street after his arrest.
Chauvin, 44, is white; Floyd, 46, was black.
Here are six things people are saying in memory of a man a brother called “a gentle giant”:
1. He ‘Touched Hearts’
During a memorial service Thursday in Minneapolis, NBC reported, Philonise Floyd said his older brother’s life left an impression that could be seen in all those who came to pay their last respects.
“All these people came to see my brother and that’s amazing to me that he touched so many people’s hearts, because he’s been touching our hearts,” Floyd said.
Chauvin, who was fired May 26 along with three other officers involved, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder in the death of Floyd.
Chauvin initially had been charged May 29 with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers, two of them rookies, were charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
An employee of a grocery store had called police to report that Floyd had tried to use a counterfeit 20-dollar bill at the store, CBS Minnesota reported.
2. He Won’t See a Daughter Grow Up
Roxie Washington, a girlfriend of George Floyd’s, said the couple’s 6-year-old daughter has been robbed of having her father present in her life.
“This is what those officers took from me,” Washington said, according to CNN. “At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna does not have a father.”
“He will never see her grow up, graduate; he will never walk her down the aisle. If there’s a problem she’s having that she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore.”
3. ‘Keep My Brother’s Name Ringing’
Terrence Floyd, another brother, said people should get involved in their communities to make their voices heard.
“Educate yourself and know who you are voting for,” Terrence Floyd told the crowd, ABC reported. “And that’s how we’re going to hit ’em.”
“Keep my brother’s name ringing,” he added. “We’re still going to do this peacefully.”
In an interview Sunday night with ABC News’ Alex Perez, Terrence Floyd also said that this brother would not want violence.
“[S]ometimes I get angry; I want to bust some heads, too,” he said. “I want to … just go crazy. But I’m here. My brother wasn’t about that. My brother was about peace. You’ll hear a lot of people say he was a gentle giant.”
4. His Children Denounce Violence
Connie Mason Floyd, 26, another daughter, told KBTX-TV in Bryan and College Station, Texas, that “the violence is not the right way to do it.“
A son of Floyd’s, Quincy Mason Floyd, had similar words.
“Tearing up things, it’s not going to solve anything,” Quincy Floyd, 27, said, according to Breitbart. “My dad is in peace, and we have to be the ones to deal with all this stress. It’s going to be tough to get over this day by day.”
The younger Floyd reportedly had not seen his father for 15 years after moving with his mother and sister from Houston to Bryan, Texas.
“I didn’t recognize who it was until Mom called and told me,” he said. “She said, ‘Do you know who that guy was?’ I said no. She said, ‘That’s your father.’”
5. ‘Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, politician, and talk show host, said Floyd’s death is symbolic of the life of African Americans.
“The reason we could never be who we wanted to be and dreamed of being is you kept your knee on our neck,” Sharpton said in formal remarks at the memorial service, Axios reported.
“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’”
6. ‘Everything in My Power’
Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Floyd family, said in a tweet Friday that he is working for justice to punish those responsible for Floyd’s death.
“It’s so heartbreaking that #GeorgeFloyd’s family has to constantly be reminded of George’s murder,” Crump said on Twitter. “It should have never happened in the first place, but I’m doing everything in my power to ensure we get #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. #BlackLivesMatter #SayHisName.”
At the time of his death, Floyd had lost his job as a nightclub bouncer during the stay-at-home restrictions for COVID-19 put in place by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, according to CBS Minnesota.
Floyd’s work also may have led to his first meeting Chauvin, the police officer charged with killing him.
Floyd and Chauvin both worked at the El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub and, according to owner Maya Santamaria, both worked Tuesday nights during a weekly dance competition, CBS News reported. El Nuevo Rodeo burned down during the protests in Minneapolis.
Floyd, who also had worked as a truck driver, spent five years in prison after his arrest and conviction for armed robbery during a 2007 home invasion in Houston. He was sentenced to five years in a plea deal, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
Floyd was vocal about ending violence while living in Houston’s Third Ward before moving to Minneapolis, Christianity Today reported.
“Every youth and young man growing up will know George Floyd,” musician Ronnie Lillard, who performs under the name Reconcile, told Christianity Today. “The people who knew him personally will remember him as a positive light. Guys from the streets look to him like, ‘Man, if he can change his life, I can change mine.’”
Christianity Today reported:
Before moving to Minneapolis for a job opportunity through a Christian work program, the 46-year-old spent almost his entire life in the historically black Third Ward, where he was called ‘Big Floyd’ and regarded as an ‘OG,’ a de-facto community leader and elder statesmen, his ministry partners say.
“George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in,” Patrick “P.T.” Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston church, told the Christian magazine.
“The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd,” the pastor said.