HARTFORD — An empty casket strewn with flowers stood outside the Connecticut state Capitol building Wednesday, at a symbolic memorial service for George Floyd and untold other African American victims of police violence.
The gathering began with anguished cries of “Momma, I can’t breathe,” the final words uttered by Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last month. It concluded with a stirring call to address racism.
“We’re going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations ... kumbaya ... [doesn’t] work anymore,'' said state Sen. Douglas McCrory, a Democrat from Hartford. “For my white friends who are in power politically, financially, you’re going to have to start listening to us and collaborating with us ... it’s time to put words into action.”
The ceremony was preceded by a funeral procession: More than 300 cars made their way from Windsor through Hartford’s North End before arriving at the Capitol.
Organized by the YWCA Hartford Region and a coalition of groups, the procession was led by a hearse from the black-owned Howard K. Hill Funeral Services.
The solemn gathering was one of several public protests and calls for change in Connecticut Wednesday. In Danbury, hundreds of people marched from the public library to I-84, shutting down the highway for about an hour.
In emotional remarks outside the state Capitol, speaker after speaker said it was time to demand change.
To Gov. Ned Lamont, who attended but did not speak, the Rev. A.J. Johnson said “We need you. We need you right now.”