An empty casket was placed at the State Capitol Wednesday, a solemn symbolic gesture to George Floyd.
Organized by the YWCA of Hartford, a funeral-like procession stretched from Windsor to Harford. Hundreds paid respects as the procession, complete with a hearse and casket, flowed from Windsor’s Hopewell Baptist Church to the State Capitol.
A hearse and casket were provided by Howard K. Hill Funeral Services in Bloomfield. The event was organized as a way of symbolically mourning Floyd and other victims of police violence.
“It’s George Floyd today but it represents every black man and woman who has died, senselessly and unjustly,” said Adrienne Cochran, CEO of YWCA, Hartford.
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Cochran says the funeral idea was presented to her Saturday morning by the YWCA’s Director of Community Engagement, Melinda Johnson.
Johnson was among the lead speakers at the event.
“We stand here because we have too many mothers. Too many daughters. Too many sons. Too many friends. Too many lovers. Laying in boxes dead,” said Johnson as she addressed the hundreds of people at the capitol today.
Johnson delivered a powerful speech, calling for action, describing racism as the original pandemic.
“Before we were gasping for air because our lungs couldn’t inhale because of this virus, racism was choking us,” she said.
Vehicles, parked bumper to bumper, displayed signs of grief and protest. Like all funerals, there were emotions.
“I am overwhelmed and sad, angry and worried,” said Carter Johnson of Glastonbury.
Some attending want a significant message conveyed.
“All Americans are not white. They’re not all black. We’re all Americans and entitled to everything this country has to offer,” said Rev. Dr. Alvan Johnson of the Bethel AME Church in Bloomfield.
Those rights are ones this generation hopes the next will not have to fight as hard to retain.
“I have grandchildren and I don’t want them to grow up with this over their head,” said Sandra Mullings of Hartford.
Those attending Wednesday were received with solidarity as police and fire department chiefs from around the Hartford community all took a knee.
Gov. Ned Lamont was also watching, as there was a call to action.
“We need you to get your staff in order. To fight for our people. Enough is enough!, said Pastor AJ Johnson of Hartford’s Urban Hope Refuge Church.
Organizers from the YWCA are hopeful events like this will bring about further change.
“The only way that this means anything,” said Cochran, “is if we turn these words into action.”