The last chance for the public to say goodbye to George Floyd drew thousands of mourners today to a church in Houston where he grew up.
His death two weeks ago continues to stoke protests in America and beyond over racial injustice, and spurred France to abruptly halt the use of police choke holds.
In a reflection of the weight of the moment, the service drew the families of black victims in other high-profile killings whose names have become seared in America's conversation over race — among them Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.
"It just hurts," said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, sobbing as he ticked off some of their names outside the Fountain of Praise church. "We will get justice. We will get it. We will not let this door close."
Under a blazing Texas sun, mourners wearing T-shirts with Floyd's picture or the words "I Can't Breathe" — the phrase he said repeatedly while pinned down by a Minneapolis police officer — waited for hours to pay their respects as Floyd's body, dressed in a brown suit, lay in an open gold-coloured casket. Some sang Lean on Me and Houston's police chief bumped fists and embraced others in line.
Some knew Floyd in the nearby housing projects where he grew up. Others travelled for hours or drove in from other states. Those who couldn't make it whipped up their own tributes: In Los Angeles, a funeral-style procession of cars inched through downtown as the viewing began in Houston. In Tennessee, residents of Memphis held a moment of silence.
Bracy Burnett approached Floyd's casket wearing a homemade denim face mask scrawled with "8:46" — the length of time prosecutors say Floyd, who was black, was pinned to the ground under a white officer's knee before he died.
"All black people are not criminals. All white people are not racists. All cops are not bad. And ignorance comes in all colours. That's what I thought about when I viewed the body," Burnett, 66, said.
Floyd's death on May 25 has inspired international protests and drawn new attention to the treatment of African Americans in the US by police and the criminal justice system.
Hours into the viewing, a judge in Minneapolis kept bail at US$1 million for Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in Floyd's death.
Chauvin, 44, said almost nothing during the 11-minute hearing while appearing on closed-circuit television from a maximum-security prison.
Two weeks after Floyd's death, the impact continued to resonate at home and abroad.
In Paris, France's top security official said police would no longer permit choke holds that have been blamed for multiple cases of asphyxiation and have come under renewed criticism after Floyd's death.
And in Washington, Democrats in Congress proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures that would include a nationwide ban on choke holds in a potentially far-reaching legislative response to the mass protests denouncing the deaths of black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.
"With this happening to him, it's going to make a difference in the world," said Pam Robinson, who grew up with Floyd in Houston and handed out bottled water to mourners waiting outside the church.
The punishing heat spiked above 90 degrees and got to dozens in line, including one person who was taken to a hospital. Dozens more were helped to a cooling tent.
Comill Adams said she drove more than seven hours from Oklahoma City with her family, including two children ages 8 and 10. They wore matching black T-shirts with "I Can't Breathe" on the back — shirts she made up specially for the memorial.
"We had been watching the protests on TV. We've been at home feeling outraged. At times it brought us to tears," Adams said. "The fact this one is causing change, we had to come be a part of it."
Mourners were required to wear masks over fears of the coronavirus and stood 2m apart as they paused briefly to view the casket. On a stage behind the casket two identical murals showed Floyd wearing a black cap that read "Houston" and angel wings drawn behind him.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott was among the first to view the casket, wearing a striped gold-and-crimson tie, the colours of Floyd's Houston high school, where Floyd was a standout football player.
"George Floyd is going to change the arc of the future of the United States. George Floyd has not died in vain. His life will be a living legacy about the way that America and Texas responds to this tragedy," Abbott said.
Floyd's funeral will be tomorrow, followed by burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery in suburban Pearland, where he will be laid to rest next to his mother, Larcenia Floyd.
Former Vice-President Joe Biden travelled to Houston to meet Floyd's family and provide a video message for Floyd's funeral service. Previous memorials have taken place in Minneapolis and Raeford, North Carolina, near where Floyd was born.
Floyd was raised in Houston's Third Ward, and moved to Minneapolis several years ago to seek work and a fresh start.
His face now appears on a mural in his old neighbourhood, and his name was chanted by tens of thousands last week at a protest and march in downtown Houston.