'We got to act': Minnesota ex-felon finds purpose at George Floyd memorial
By Brendan O'Brien MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Alfonzo Williams waved his massive forearms and urged onlookers to clear the way for the procession of clergy members marching toward the site in his Minneapolis neighborhood where a white police officer knelt on George Floyd's neck until he died. Williams ushered local faith leaders to a spot where they preached and prayed with hundreds of grievers. Just feet away, Floyd, a black man, had spent the last nine minutes of his life face down on the pavement with the officer's knee jammed into his neck
By Brendan O'Brien
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Alfonzo Williams waved his massive forearms and urged onlookers to clear the way for the procession of clergy members marching toward the site in his Minneapolis neighborhood where a white police officer knelt on George Floyd's neck until he died.
Williams ushered local faith leaders to a spot where they preached and prayed with hundreds of grievers. Just feet away, Floyd, a black man, had spent the last nine minutes of his life face down on the pavement with the officer's knee jammed into his neck.
Williams, a 43-year-old ex-felon and former gang member, believes divine intervention brought him and other members of the local black community to this moment and will guide their response to the tragedy that put the neighborhood in the global spotlight.
"By the grace of God I'm here and alive," said Williams, who has been shot six times during his life. "I know God has a plan and this is part of it. We can't sit around no more. If we want to have hope for the next generation, we got to act."
Williams is a member of the Worldwide Outreach for Christ, a nearby church where he works security and helps organize events for the small congregation.
Before the deadly incident, he served as eyes and ears of this once-ordinary urban neighborhood. Now he is part host, part traffic cop at the sprawling makeshift memorial for Floyd, the latest casualty of police violence to become a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I fallen into my role. It's crazy. I can't sit down," he said, resting his sore hip in his truck after working the crowd, helping set up grills and move cases of bottled water.
Williams grew up in the neighborhood. He was a gang member who served time in federal prison for wire fraud and identify theft for stealing $1.8 million.
Since leaving prison 10 years ago, "I haven't looked back," said Williams, who now owns a demolition and landscaping company. "I learned in prison that it was not for me. You got to make choices, the right decisions."
Since Floyd's death, Williams has been at the scene every day to help organize and provide emotional support to grievers.
"I'm using my life experience to deal with the emotional stress and everything that is out here," said Williams, his eyes welling with tears. "I don't want to do this, but my soul wants me to."
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Minneapolis; Editing by David Gregorio)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
By Anna Koper and Joanna Plucinska WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish presidential challenger Rafal Trzaskowski tried to rally supporters of other opposition candidates to his centrist cause on Monday, vowing to hold the nationalist government to account ahead of what looks set to be a knife-edge run-off vote. Incumbent president Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, led the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, but fell short of the 50% needed for outright victory, setting the stage for a run-off with Trzaskowski on July 12. "I am directing my words to all those who want change," Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of Warsaw, told supporters in the city of Plock
By Tangi Salaün PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Monday sentenced former Prime Minister Francois Fillon to five years in jail, three of them suspended, for embezzling public funds in a scandal that wrecked his 2017 run for president.
By Ben Kellerman NEW YORK (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of most in-person Pride events this year, but a march in Manhattan on Sunday drew thousands to the streets in solidarity with protesters demanding an end to racial injustice and police brutality. The second annual Queer Liberation March capped a month of Pride events, virtual and live, during which the celebration of LGBTQ lives has merged with the nationwide demonstrations ignited by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. People chanted "No justice, no peace" as the crowd snaked through Manhattan, while techno music blasted from a pickup truck carrying two DJs, one of whom led marchers in chanting "Black lives matter." Reclaim Pride Coalition, the group that organized the march, staged its first protest last year by walking in the opposite direction to New York City's marquee Pride parade, rejecting that event's large uniformed police presence and the ubiquitous corporate-sponsored floats that normally drift down Manhattan's 5th Avenue each year