North Central University in Minneapolis will be the site for a private memorial service for George Floyd, the man whose death during a police encounter more than a week ago has provoked an unprecedented reaction throughout the nation and beyond.
The service, announced Tuesday, will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday in the Lindquist Sanctuary of the Trask Word & Worship Center. The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy, the civil rights leader’s National Action Network said.
The gathering at the school in the city’s Elliot Park neighborhood is the first of three memorial events culminating with Floyd’s funeral and burial in Houston, where the 46-year-old man lived for most of his life.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he will be among those attending at North Central.
The campus of 1,200 students tucked in the southeast corner of downtown was chosen to host the memorial through a connection on its faculty. Prof. Ellington Porter has a brother on the national task force associated with Sharpton’s organization, said North Central President Scott Hagan.
Hagan said he’s confident that the sanctuary “is a very normal space to help the family and put aside the theater and noise that is going on.”
Along with Sharpton’s eulogy, Floyd’s family members will participate, and a statement from family attorney Benjamin Crump will be read.
North Central said the memorial is limited to family, friends and invited guests. The event will be carried by livestream on local media outlets, the school added.
Late last week, as the sometimes violent and destructive unrest struck many blocks in Minneapolis, Hagan wrote in an open letter that “as a Christian university … I believe North Central University is poised as a healing agent in downtown Minneapolis.”
Sharpton was in Minneapolis Thursday and spoke at E. 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue, the corner where Floyd was detained until he fell into unconsciousness. Sharpton was accompanied by Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by New York City police in 2014.
One of the challenges of staging the Minneapolis gathering and the others is working within social distancing rules in place to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus.
North Central’s sanctuary seats roughly 1,000 and can expand capacity by another 2,000 or so because of the nearby gymnasium and other adjacent space, Hagan said.
Under an executive order from Gov. Tim Walz, this type of gathering appears to fall under these conditions: organizers must ensure a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance between households, and occupancy must not exceed 25% of normal capacity as determined by the fire marshal, with a maximum of 250 people in a single, self-contained space.
Hagan said the memorial will resemble more of “a small family event,” and he is confident the school can adhere to the social distancing restrictions.
A statement from North Central said it is working with the service’s planners and Walz’s office “to ensure appropriate measures will be in place for health and safety related to COVID-19. When finalized, these measures will be communicated to all guests and media attending the funeral.”
Another remembrance is scheduled for Saturday in North Carolina, the state where Floyd was born. A public viewing is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon CDT and then a memorial at 2 p.m. at the Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters in Raeford.
Floyd’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 9 in Houston at the Fountain of Praise, with burial to follow. There will be a viewing the day before at the same location from noon to 6 p.m.
Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family, said Tuesday on CNN that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is expected to attend the Houston funeral.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, who lives in Las Vegas and has never met Floyd, said he will be paying for the funeral.
The Fort Bend Memorial Planning Center, just south of Houston, is handling arrangements in all three states. Center operator Bobby Swearington said additional details will be announced soon.
Staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482