Huge crowd gathers for George Floyd memorial in North Carolina

Thousands of mourners showed up Saturday to remember George Floyd ahead of a second memorial service, this time in North Carolina near where he was born.

Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis sparked protests around the country. The first memorial service took place Thursday in Minneapolis at a sanctuary at North Central University.

The mourners lined up Saturday morning for a two-hour public viewing of his casket at Cape Fear Conference B in Raeford, about 24 miles from Fayetteville. Floyd was 46 when he died.

A private service for family members only begins at 3 p.m. local time but is being broadcast.

The scene Saturday at George Floyd public viewing in Raeford, N.C.

The scene Saturday at George Floyd public viewing in Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County Sheriff's Office)

Two lines of people about 100 deep formed separate lines at the entrance to the church.

When a hearse bearing Floyd’s coffin arrived, chants of “Black Power,” “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace,” echoed from beneath the covered entrance.

“It could have been me. It could have been my brother, my father, any of my friends who are black,” said a man in the crowd, Erik Carlos of Fayetteville. “It was a heavy hit, especially knowing that George Floyd was born near my hometown. It made me feel very vulnerable at first.”

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People were arriving from all across the country for the public viewing, WRAL-TV reported.

A conference center spokeswoman told the station there have been calls from California, Georgia and Indiana.

"Everyone wants to come see the services for George Floyd," she said.

Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin urged attendees to respect the family's grief, according to the station.

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"The memorial is about the life that Mr. George Floyd lived, and this is a time to embrace the family with expressions of love and kindness," Peterkin said.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he lay handcuffed on the pavement, gasping that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has been charged with murder. The other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting in connection with Floyd’s death.

Heavy traffic was reported along US 401 for George Floyd public viewing in Raeford, N.C.

Heavy traffic was reported along US 401 for George Floyd public viewing in Raeford, N.C. (Hoke County Sheriff's Office )

A bystander recorded the incident with a cell phone camera and posted the footage online.

Rev. Al Sharpton said during Thursday's eulogy that George Floyd’s story has been the story of black people.

"Because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be is you kept your knee on our neck,” he said. “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks!’”

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A third memorial service is scheduled for Monday in Houston, where Floyd lived, followed by a private service the next day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.