MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings canceled all virtual team meetings on Thursday and ended the business day at noon to allow players, coaches and staff members the opportunity to view a local memorial service for George Floyd, who died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on Memorial Day.
Several Vikings players, including Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, Garrett Bradbury, Mike Hughes, Aviante Collins, Alexander Mattison, Chad Beebe, Cameron Smith, Tajae Sharpe, Tyler Conklin, Jake Browning and Dakota Dozier, attended Thursday's service, which was held at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.
The players met at U.S. Bank Stadium and made the walk over to the memorial service shortly before 1 p.m. Celebrities, political activists and friends joined members of Floyd's family inside the sanctuary of the university to hear a eulogy delivered by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Outside, hundreds gathered to mourn Floyd while the service was broadcast over the university's loudspeakers. Several miles away, residents and supporters flocked to the site where Floyd died outside of Cup Foods in south Minneapolis, where the service was also heard playing over loudspeakers.
"You feel a little bit helpless, like you can't do nothing. You want to help. You want to be the change, but you don't know how to in this situation. It's real deep," Kendricks, who became emotional in the video, said. "Minneapolis is a place that I care about really deeply. It breaks my heart to see the people of Minneapolis not only treated like this but how hurt they are by this.
"This isn't a problem that's going to be fixed overnight. It's going to take accountability from each of us. I say that because I'm applying the pressure to myself as well. I'm applying the pressure to myself to do more."
"I want to challenge everyone to compete with themselves to be better each day. Try to compete in the category of being understanding, being more compassionate, being more respectful, being more aware and being a leader," Harris said in his video.
Floyd's death fueled protests across the nation, which led to looting and property destruction throughout the Twin Cities.
On Friday, Rudolph and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who joined Vikings players at the service, are holding a charitable drive for donations of food and other essential goods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cub Foods at 2850 26th Ave. South in Minneapolis.
Three memorials over six days are planned for Floyd in the cities where he was born, grew up and died. Thursday's memorial was the first.
Floyd's body will next be taken to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a two-hour public viewing and private service for the family on Saturday.
Finally, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. A 500-person service on Tuesday will take place at The Fountain of Praise church. A private burial will follow.