George Floyd has been extolled at his funeral by religious and political leaders, family and friends in his hometown of Houston, Texas.

“This is a home-going celebration,” Reverend Mia Wright, co-pastor at the Fountain of Praise Church, told mourners.

Banners featured pop art illustrations of Floyd wearing a baseball cap with a halo above it, while US flags lined the streets outside the church on Tuesday.

Flowers and bouquets were placed around a photograph of Floyd.

Former US vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke via video recording.

“Why in this nation do too many black Americans wake up knowing that they could lose their life in the course of just living their life?” Biden said.

“We must not turn away. We cannot leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away from racism.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

After the service, a funeral procession was due to travel about 24km to Houston Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Pearland, Texas.

Floyd’s body was to travel in a horse-drawn carriage for burial alongside his mother.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who grew up in the Texas city, died on May 25 after a white police officer in Minneapolis pinned him with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes.

A bystander’s video captured the incident in excruciating detail, including his saying “I can’t breathe” and crying out for his mother.

Mourner Godfrey Johnson, 45, attended 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.

Advertisement
Advertisement

About 500 people were invited to the funeral, which followed memorial services last week in Minneapolis and Raeford, the North Carolina town where Floyd was born.

Advised to guard against the coronavirus pandemic by wearing masks over their mouths and noses, some mourners and onlookers wore ones that said “I can’t breathe”.

Family members of other black men killed in confrontations with white men also attended.

They included the mother of Eric Garner, the New York man who died in a police chokehold, and the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Georgia man who was shot and killed in February while jogging.

Floyd’s death ignited a wave of protests across the US and cities worldwide against racism and the systematic mistreatment of black people, reinvigorating the Black Lives Matter movement.

Derek Chauvin, 44, the policeman who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Chauvin’s co-defendants, three fellow officers, are accused of aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.

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 Floyd was pinned down.

The New York Stock Exchange also observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence for the start of the funeral.

AAP