Thousands of protesters chanted George Floyd’s name in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday as his brother struggled to address them ahead of a march in honor of black men and women killed by cops and vigilantes.
“I’m so overwhelmed now now, with everybody here right now,” Philonise Floyd told the crowd.
“I wish George were here to see this right now. That’s who I’m marching for.”
Floyd — whose brother died after a Minneapolis cop was caught on camera pressing a knee against his his neck on May 25, sparking nationwide protests — sniffled as he referenced other victims, including Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, before being overcome by emotion.
“It’s never been more clear that change, right now, is happening right now because we demand it,” he said after composing himself.
Floyd broke down again after noting the heat in Washington, DC, and saying, “We’re here because we are being fried right now, man.”
The crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace,” as he composed himself a second time.
“As of now, everybody out here right now, our leaders, they need to follow us while we’re marching to enact laws to protect us,” he said.
He then paused, saying softly, “Man, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I’m so sorry, man.”
The show of emotion led the crowd to start chanting his brother’s name.
“My brother, George, he’s looking down right now. He’s thankful for everything that everybody is doing right now. You all are showing a lot of empathy and passion and I’m enjoying every last bit of it right now,” he said.
“If it weren’t for y’all, I don’t know where I’d be right now, because y’all are keeping me running.”
Floyd was among dozens of speakers who addressed the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” event, held on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
That gathering featured the historic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by slain civil-rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Friday’s speakers also included Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who alluded to the presidential election in November.
“What we need is change and we’re at a point where we can get that change,” she said.
“We have to stand together and we have to vote.”
King’s son, Martin Luther King III, told the crowd, “We’ve come here to bear witness, to remain awake, to remember where we’ve come from and to consider where we’re going.”
“We’re taking a step forward on America’s rocky but righteous journey toward justice,” he added.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network organized Friday’s event, also said, “We didn’t just come out here to have a show.”
“Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” he said.
Following the speeches, the crowd began marching to the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.