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Floyd family attorney urges nation to 'not cooperate with evil' but instead continue protesting against it

"We cannot cooperate with injustice. We cannot cooperate with torture, because George Floyd deserved better than that," Benjamin Crump said.

As loved ones gathered Thursday to remember the life of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis custody sparked nationwide protests, the Floyd family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, gave an impassioned plea for America to "not cooperate with evil" but instead to continue protesting against it.

"We cannot cooperate with evil," he said. "We cannot cooperate with injustice. We cannot cooperate with torture, because George Floyd deserved better than that. We all deserve better than that."

Crump referred to Floyd's final moments under the knee of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin as "inhumane" and invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s call to action.

"The plea for justice is simply this," Crump said. "Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting is really like cooperating with it.'"

Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country

Crump told mourners that Floyd died not of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people across the country, but instead of an unspoken pandemic generations in the making.

"I want to make it clear on the record," Crump said. "It was the other pandemic that we're far too familiar with here in America — the pandemic of racism and discrimination — that killed George Floyd."

Floyd tested positive for COVID-19, according to an autopsy.

Crump went on to encourage all Americans to continue pouring into the streets, calling for peace and justice against a system that he said all too often treats black people as less than human.

"So America, we proclaim as we memorialize George Floyd: Do not cooperate with evil," he said. "Join the young people in the streets protesting against the evil, the inhumane, the torture that they witnessed on that video."

Floyd died May 25 after he was accused of passing a suspicious-looking $20 bill at a corner store and arrested by Minneapolis police.

Minutes later, Floyd was face down in handcuffs on the pavement with Chauvin, who was later fired, pressing his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Passersby recorded the incident as Floyd begged for air. Chauvin was arrested Friday and initially charged with third-degree murder before the charge was upgraded Wednesday to second-degree murder.

Minnesota authorities have already launched a sweeping civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department.

David K. Li contributed.