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America Reckons With Racial Injustice

WATCH: Family Of George Floyd, Whose Death Sparked Protests, Holds Funeral Service

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A woman stops to photograph a memorial for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church on Tuesday in Houston.
Eric Gay, AP

A woman stops to photograph a memorial for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church on Tuesday in Houston.

Updated 1:15 p.m. ET

George Floyd, whose killing by police inspired days of protests in the U.S. and around the world calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality, will be laid to rest on Tuesday in his hometown of Houston.

The black man died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25. A video captured by a bystander showed Floyd pleading for air and calling out for his mother.

Floyd, who was 46 years old when he was killed, will now be buried next to his mother.

The funeral service happening now is private, though live coverage can be heard here or a video stream is available below.

The service got under way at The Fountain of Praise church about 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, due in part because of so many in attendance.

"So much for social distancing today," Rev. Remus Wright, the church's senior pastor, said to the crowd. "Obviously it's a lot more people than we thought."

Mia Wright, the co-pastor said, "This is a moment by which God has gathered people all around the world to connect us around the life of the brother George Perry Floyd."

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They both promised a homegoing ceremony that would be a "foot-stomping, toe-tapping, shouting, hallelujah, praising God" event.

Thunderous renditions of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" rang through the sanctuary.

Gospel singer Dray Tate sang Sam Cooke's 1964 hit "A Change Is Gonna Come" as paintings with Floyd's image were prominently displayed in the pulpit.

The majority of the people in the sanctuary had facial masks on to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The pastor said those without masks were encouraged to get one or run the risk of not being allowed to stay for the service.

The funeral follows days of public memorials that drew thousands of mourners, including one in Houston on Monday, one near his birthplace in North Carolina over the weekend and one last week in Minneapolis.

The funeral service will be a private, though a live coverage can be heard here or a video stream is available below.

On Monday, hundreds of mourners braved sweltering temperatures in Houston to pay their respects to Floyd, who lay in an open gold-colored casket. Many wore T-shirts that said "Black Lives Matter" and "I can't breathe."

Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, met with members of the Floyd family.

Biden is not expected to attend "out of concern his Secret Service detail would create a disruption" Houston Public Media reported.

Following the public memorial, civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton vowed the marches that have been held in cities across the United States and nations across the world, including Germany and England, will continue.

Sharpton also said the Floyd family joins a list of other black families who have lost loved ones killed by police, including Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., both in 2014, and Botham Jean in Dallas in 2018.

Sharpton also paid tribute to Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed in Glynn County, Ga., in February. One of the three white men accused of murdering him is a retired law enforcement officer.

The fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home in March by police executing a no-knock search warrant, has also sparked protest in Louisville in recent days.

"Know that none of these family members asked to be an activist or a leader," Sharpton said.

"They've been thrust into a role they did not ask for. So we are standing with them as they have now become the forefront of a new wave that I think will change policing in America, forever."

$1 million bail set for Derek Chauvin

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer seen in the video with his knee on Floyd's neck, appeared in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis via video link on Monday.

As NPR reported, a judge set his bail at $1 million with conditions. That means he is eligible for supervised released. He could also be released without conditions at a higher bail amount of $1.25 million.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder in Floyd's death.

Three other Minneapolis police officers, who, like Chauvin, were terminated and arrested after Floyd's death, are facing charges of aiding and abetting murder.

Also on Monday, House Democrats unveiled new legislation that, if passed, would bring widespread reforms to policing in the United States.

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 has more than 200 sponsors. Among reforms the bill calls for includes prohibiting the use of chokeholds, a ban no-knock warrants in narcotics-related cases and establishing a national registry to track misconduct by law enforcement.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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