Former US vice-president Joe Biden has delivered an emotional message to George Floyd’s daughter and implored Americans to “look through her eyes” as mourners said their final goodbyes.
“You’re so brave. Daddy’s looking down on you,” Mr Biden said in a pre-recorded video aired at Mr Floyd’s funeral in his hometown of Houston, Texas on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
He continued: “Why? Why is Daddy gone? In looking through your eyes, we should all be asking ourselves why the answer is often too cruel and painful.”
Also during the funeral, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner announced that an executive order to ban chokeholds and strangleholds was being drafted by the city’s top lawyer.
While Mr Biden’s pre-recorded message was screened at the service, his political rival, President Donald Trump, did not use his preferred method of communication to tweet condolences or comment on the funeral.
Instead, Mr Trump took to Twitter to share an unsubstantiated theory about a protester who was hurt by police during rallies that have rocked the US since Mr Floyd died at the hands of police in late May.
Speaking about Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester in Buffalo who was left in a critical condition after he was shoved to the ground by police, Mr Trump said suggested he could have been an “Antifa provocateur” (referring to anti-fascists).
After watching a video showing Mr Gugino motionless on the ground and bleeding from his ear, Mr Trump said “he fell harder than was pushed” and questioned, “could be a set up?”.
As Mr Trump’s tweet, which was not backed up by evidence, went viral in the US early on Wednesday (Australian time), Mr Gugino remained in hospital.
His friends and neighbours told The New York Times that Mr Gugino, a retired computer programmer, was not involved in the anti-fascist movement ‘anti-fa’.
The assault was captured on a mobile phone, and the police officers involved have been charged.
Back at Mr Floyd’s private funeral, his niece, Brooke Williams, slammed Mr Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.
“When has America ever been great?” she said.
“That officer (Derek Chauvin) showed no remorse while watching my uncle’s soul leave his body. He begged and pleaded many times just for you to get up, but you just pushed harder. Why must the system be corrupt and broken?”
Outside the service, Houston Police Department chief Art Acevedo said what happened to Mr Floyd was “not consistent with the expectations of the modern 21st century police officers”.
“There’s still too many incidents where bad policing is tolerated, so we just need to say no,” he said.
Inside the church, banners featured pop art illustrations of Mr Floyd wearing a baseball cap with a halo atop, while US flags fluttered on the streets outside.
“This is a home-going celebration,” Reverend Mia Wright, co-pastor at the Fountain of Praise Church, told mourners.
After the service, a funeral procession was to travel about 24 kilometres to Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Pearland.
Mr Floyd’s body was to travel in a horse-drawn carriage to be buried beside his mother.
Mourner Godfrey Johnson, 45, attended Mr Floyd’s high school and played football with him.
“It was the worst thing I ever could have imagined, watching him going from speaking and breathing to turning blue,” he said.
About 500 people were invited to the funeral, which followed memorial services last week in Minneapolis and Raeford, the North Carolina town where Mr Floyd was born.
Having been urged to guard against coronavirus infection by wearing masks, some mourners and onlookers chose ones emblazoned with the words “I can’t breathe”.
Family members of other black men killed in confrontations with white men also attended.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation asking Minnesotans to spend eight minutes and 46 seconds in silence to mark the start of the funeral, the length of time Mr Floyd was pinned down by police during his fatal arrest.
The New York Stock Exchange also observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence for the start of the funeral.