The longtime journalist appeared on Wednesday’s episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” during which he talked about the most powerful moment he experienced while covering the Texas funeral of Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who suffocated under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
“Within a week I was in Houston, but before that I was in Minneapolis for the memorial service. I think the most powerful moment for me was that when Rev. (Al) Sharpton was doing the eulogy, and he said, ‘Let’s pause for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.’ And I was outside the church,” he said.
Lester said he was taken aback by the public’s response.
“I’m seeing this sea of people out there and just looking at the faces. Some people were crying. Some people were praying. Some people were just shell shocked. I think I was in the shell-shocked category of trying to imagine that period of time. It’s a long, long time. Of course, it references the time that the officer’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck.
“But I think that really moved me. You’ve seen the video, but you see through a different lens when you really feel that length of time.”
Floyd’s death in May was met with a wave of worldwide demonstrations protesting racial injustice. Clarkson asked Lester what makes his death different from other Black deaths at the hands of police that he’s covered.
“I think because we were all eyewitnesses to it,” Lester responded. “You’re right, we’ve seen many of these cases and very often ends up being jumbled dashcam video or bodycam video. This was a rather steady shot of a man being suffocated to death, and there’s no equivocating that.”
Lester said the image of Floyd losing his life doesn’t offer much for debate and that resonated with millions of people.
“There’s no walking around it. There’s no, ‘Maybe it could’ve been this or that.’ It was what you saw, and when you bear witness to something that awful, you can’t walk away from it. You can’t discount it. You can’t leave it to other people,” he said.
“Sometimes the protesters come right by my apartment. I look out and I see Black and white and Asians and Hispanics. I see a rainbow of people here as human beings who are saying, ‘No, that doesn’t stand in our society.’ So I think his case, it symbolized so many things we’ve seen, but it was just so graphic and so awful and as I said we are all eyewitnesses to it.”