HOUSTON (Reuters) - George Floyd’s hometown of Houston held a memorial march for him on Tuesday, where attendees recounted a “gentle giant” whose legacy had helped the city largely avoid the violent protests seen elsewhere in the United States.
Hundreds gathered at a downtown park to honor Floyd, who died after a white police officer pinned his neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd’s death has ignited protests across the country.
Floyd lived most of his 46 years in Houston’s historically black Third Ward neighborhood, located about a mile south of the park where the march began. He had moved to Minneapolis several years ago.
The memorial march was organized by well-known Houston rappers Trae Tha Truth, who was a longtime friend of Floyd’s - and Bun B, who worked directly with Floyd’s family for the event. Houston’s mayor and police chief were expected to attend.
“We’re gonna represent him right,” Trae Tha Truth, whose given name is Frazier Thompson III, told the crowd of several hundred people gathered for the march. “We are gonna tear the system from the inside out.”
He added: “George Floyd is looking down at us now and he’s smiling.”
After a prayer, the marchers exited the park and began to walk toward City Hall.
Houston has so far largely escaped the violent protests, with some attributing that directly to the legacy of Floyd himself.
“The people who knew George the best help set the tone for Houston. They knew what he was about. He truly was a gentle giant, a sweet guy,” said David Hill, a Houston community activist and pastor at Restoration Community Church, who knows the Floyd family.
Hill said Floyd was a good person raised in a tough area. Floyd was well known in the Third Ward and helped churches spread the Gospel in projects and other poor parts of the neighborhood.
Houston’s black community deeply felt Floyd’s loss, Hill said, and most wanted to carry out peaceful demonstrations to honor his memory.
“He was a son of the city. We’re grieving in a different way,” Hill said. “What you’re seeing in the city of Houston right now, is the people who knew him want to represent the city in the best way possible.”
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Brad Brooks and Peter Cooney
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