Thousands of mourners streamed through a church in the U.S. city of Houston to view the casket of George Floyd, the African American man whose death in police custody sparked renewed protests against police brutality in cities across the country and in other parts of the world.
Mourners, wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, formed a procession at The Fountain of Praise church in Floyd’s native Houston on Monday to view the open casket where they paused to pay their respects.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott was among those who paid tribute. He told reporters outside the church that he will include Floyd’s family in discussions about police reform.
“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.
Outside the church, organizers assembled a large floral arrangement with white roses to spell the initials BLM for Black Lives Matter.
Floyd’s funeral will take place Tuesday, followed by burial at the Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden met Floyd's relatives for more than an hour in Houston on Monday, according to the family's lawyer Benjamin Crump.
Crump said on Twitter that Biden “listened, heard their pain, and shared in their woe."
Also Monday, Derek Chauvin, the white officer who was filmed pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes before Floyd’s death, made his first court appearance since the charges against him were upgraded to second-degree murder.
Chauvin said little during Monday’s brief hearing at a Minneapolis court as he appeared on closed-circuit television from a maximum-security prison. His next appearance is set for June 29.
WATCH: Mourners say their goodbyes
Sunday, President Donald Trump ordered National Guard troops to start withdrawing from the nation’s capital after they deployed there to assist law enforcement. Similar withdrawals are happening in other states with protests in recent days taking place with few clashes between demonstrators and authorities.
Trump has consistently expressed his backing for what he calls “law and order” and in a tweet Sunday he criticized those who want to see police departments have their budgets slashed or eliminated entirely.
“I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!” Trump said.
Senator Mitt Romney, a member of Trump’s Republican Party, joined protesters in Washington during a march Sunday, the first known instance of a Republican lawmaker taking part in the demonstrations during the past two weeks.
Romney tweeted several photos along with the caption, “Black Lives Matter.” One photo was a selfie among protesters carrying signs that included the messages “RACISM KILLS” and “BE JUST, LOVE MERCY, WALK HUMBLY.”
“We need a voice against racism, we need many voices against racism and against brutality,” he told NBC News.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Monday that Trump is "appalled" by calls from some protesters and activists for police departments to be defunded. She said the president is “taking a look at various" proposals in response to Floyd’s death but offered no specifics.
In Minneapolis, where the 46-year-old Floyd died May 25 after a white police officer held him face down on the street and pressed a knee against his neck for several minutes, nine of the 12 city council members pledged to disband the city’s police department.
“A veto-proof majority of the MPLS City Council just publicly agreed that the Minneapolis Police Department is not reformable and that we're going to end the current policing system,” Council Member Alondra Cano tweeted Sunday.
Mayor Jacob Frey, who supported bringing charges against the officer who held Floyd, told protesters on Saturday that he favors reforming the department instead of fully abolishing it. The crowd gathered outside his home greeted his answer with boos.
Frey told the Star Tribune newspaper Sunday, “People continue to require service in many forms from our public safety offices, whether in times of domestic violence, or assistance in some of the most dire conditions.”
The Minneapolis city council voted last week to ban police from using chokeholds and neck restraints.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s police training program to stop teaching chokeholds.
Denver’s police department also announced Sunday that it has fully banned the use of chokeholds. In addition, it said it would require members of its SWAT team to activate their body cameras during operations.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday his administration plans to move an unspecified amount of funding from the police department to “youth initiatives and social services.”
“The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead. But I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people. And I also will affirm while doing that, we will only do it in a way that we are certain continues to ensure that this city will be safe,” de Blasio said.
Thousands of people kept up protests Sunday in other parts of the country, including in Los Angeles where the city’s mayor has pledged to cut the police department’s budget as part of an effort to invest in community programs.
Protesters also assembled Sunday in major cities such as New York, Chicago and Atlanta, where leaders have lifted nighttime curfews put in place after earlier demonstrations were marred by vandalism and looting.
Sunday also brought protests in the northwestern city of Seattle, where a man drove a car toward a crowd in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, then shot a man who reached into the car. The gunman got out of the car and walked through the crowd, and later approached a line of police officers who took him into custody.
Police gave few details on the incident, saying only that a suspect was in custody and a gun was recovered. The Seattle fire department said the gunshot victim was approximately 27 years old and was taken to a local hospital in stable condition.