Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Oprah, more celebrities react to the death of George Floyd: 'We must act'

Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY

Celebrities are joining the chorus of thousands of protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in police custody Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

The horrifying bystander video of Floyd's death spread quickly on social media earlier in the day, showing the officer driving his knee into Floyd's neck as the handcuffed man repeatedly says he can't breathe.

Four officers involved in the incident have been fired, and on Friday, former officer Derek Chauvin, the officer seen with his knee on Floyd's neck, was arrested days after the video surfaced. 

Stars are sharing their emotions about the incident, including Oprah Winfrey, who tweeted a message and artwork depicting Floyd.

"I've been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment," Winfrey tweeted Friday. "I haven't been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head. It's there every morning when I rise and when I go through the ordinary duties of the day. While pouring coffee, lacing my shoes, and taking a breath, I think: He doesn't get to do this. And now the video from the other angle of the two officers pinning him down. My heart sinks even deeper."

Winfrey continued: "His family and friends say he was a gentle giant. His death has now shown us he had a giant soul. If the largeness of a soul is determined by its sphere of influence, George Floyd is a Mighty soul. #GeorgeFloyd: We speak your name. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!"

Rihanna spoke out on both Twitter and Instagram, posting images of Floyd.

"If intentional MURDER is the fit consequence for “drugs” or “resisting arrest”....then what’s the fit consequence for MURDER???! #GeorgeFloyd #AhmaudArbery #BreonnaTaylor," she wrote on Twitter.

On Instagram, she shared a similar message expressing her feelings more deeply. 

"The magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I’ve felt has been overwhelming to say the least!" she wrote. "Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart! To the point of staying away from socials, just to avoid hearing the blood curdling agony in George Floyd’s voice again, begging over and over for his life!!!"

The singer continued: "The look of enticement, the pure joy and climax on the face of this bigot, murderer, thug, pig, bum, Derek Chauvin, haunts me!! I can’t shake this! I can’t get over an ambulance pulling up to an arrest, a paramedic checking a pulse without removing the very thing that’s hindering it!"

Singer Billie Eilish weighed in on Instagram with a long, expletive-laden message that stretched across four screens. It's a message she said she's been crafting for days.

"I have an enormous platform and I try really hard to be respectful and take time to think through what I say and how I say it," she wrote.

Eilish took aim, in particular, at those who substitute "All lives matter" for "Black lives matter."

"If your friend gets a cut on their arm are you gonna wait to give all your friends a bandaid (sic) first because all matter?" she asked. "NO youre (sic) gonna help your friend because THEY are in PAIN because THEY are in need because THEY ARE BLEEDING!

"If all lives matter why are black people killed just for being black?" she aske. "Why are immigrants persecuted? Why are white people given opportunities that people of other races arent (sic)?"

On Twitter, pop singer Shawn Mendes said he'd "been trying to find the right words for days."

"Hearing the sound of (Floyd's) voice crying for help is bone chilling and it (expletive) breaks my heart," he wrote. "I'm so sorry that this injustice keeps happening.

"As a white person, I not only recognize that this is a problem but that I am a part of the problem," he continued. "It's time for ALL humans to demand change."

Mendes called for all Americans to come together to "help amplify black voices," "to make their struggles known" and "to reject racism."

"The time for change is long overdue & we can't rest until change is what we get," he said.

Cardi B also took to her various social media accounts to speak up. 

"Not three ,not five but almost 15 minutes of a cop knees on a mans neck while handcuffed," she tweeted. "It’s so sickening.Things have to change !!"

She expanded on her message on her Instagram.

"Enough is enough! What will it take ? A civil war ? A new president? Violent riots ? It’s tired ! I’m tired !" she wrote. "The country is tired !You don’t put fear in people when you do this you just show how coward YOU ARE ! And how America is really not the land of the free !"

Justin Bieber posted a video of the incident on his Instagram with a message.

"THIS MUST STOP," he wrote. "this makes me absolutely sick. This makes me angry this man DIED. This makes me sad. Racism is evil We need to use our voice! Please people. I’m sorry GEORGE FLOYD"

Beyoncé paid tribute to Floyd on her website by sharing a photo and a message: "Rest in power George Floyd."

Kylie Jenner posted a lengthy message to her Instagram late Thursday.

"Since watching the most devastating and completely heartbreaking video showing the murder of George Floyd earlier this week I haven’t been able to get his face and his words out of my mind," she wrote. "i’ll never personally experience the pain and fear that many black people around the country go through every day but i know nobody should have to live in fear and nobody deserves a death like George Floyd and too many others."

She continued, "speaking up is long overdue for the rest of us. we’re currently dealing with two horrific pandemics in our country, and we can’t sit back and ignore the fact that racism is one of them. i fear for my daughter and i hope for a better future for her. my heart breaks for George Floyd’s family and friends. Don’t let his name be forgotten."

Rita Wilson shared an image of the incident on her Instagram.

"How is this possible again??George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Said his neck hurt. Said everything hurts. He wasn’t armed. How does this happen???? Again???" she wrote.

On Friday, Julia Roberts shared in a message on Instagram that she has "privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice," followed by a long list of activities and names that includes Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery and Floyd.

Ice Cube also posted his thoughts on Thursday.

"I apologize to everyone expecting to see me on Good Morning America today, but after the events in Minnesota with George Floyd I’m in no mood to tell America, good morning," he tweeted.

Ava DuVernay shared a lengthy statement on Twitter directed at Floyd.

"You deserved your breath, your dignity, your life. Not to die in the street, murdered by a white cop’s knee on your neck," she wrote. "You deserve our tears, our prayers, our rage, our action. We must act - for you - and for all of those were no cameras are present. We must. #GeorgeFloyd"

"Star Wars" actor John Boyega also paid tribute to Floyd in a series of tweets.

"This just burns. Seems to be a never ending cycle. The murderers need to be charged severely," he tweeted. "Even in the face of death this man was given zero empathy. #RIPGeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd"

Ariana Grande told her 74 million Twitter followers how they can take action.

"#justiceforGeorgeFloyd text FLOYD to 55156 @colorofchange to put pressure on DA Mike Freeman to charge and arrest these officers call 612-348-5550 and please sign the @change petition," she tweeted Wednesday, with a link to the petition. 

Grande returned to Twitter on Thursday to encourage her followers to "keep signing these petitions, making donations, having conversations w family and friends about it, reading and sharing links and resources." In a tweet on Friday, she called Chauvin "a murderer."

"a lot of things feel scary, dangerous and uncertain right now... but there are things within our control: voting, contacting lawmakers, and taking the census," she wrote in another tweet. "the most important thing you can do right now to take the power back is become a voter and know when your next election is."

On Friday, Kevin Hart posted a picture with his son on Instagram, writing that Floyd's death makes him worried as a father. The comedian also advocated for an accountability law that will "help us feel protected."

"A law needs to be put in place that will make these officers accountable as well as the other officers who are present at the scene of the crime," he added. "We deserve the right to feel safe. A law like this will give us a level of comfort."

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Kelly Rowland expressed similar concern over her son's well-being.

"I can't sit still. I'm angry. I'm hurt. At times feeling hopeless," Rowland said. "But then sometimes I look at my son and I'm like, hell no. I gotta keep going and what do I need to do? [I'm] feeling for the families that have to go through all this."

Rowland also spoke out on social media, sharing a Desmond Tutu quote on Instagram.

Joe Jonas wrote on Twitter Friday that recent events show that "we're living in two different versions of America."

"#GeorgeFloyd was shown no mercy, let alone human decency while just a few weeks ago we saw armed men storm a government building," he added. "This is an outrage!!"

DJ Khaled shared a tribute on Twitter Friday from his record label We The Best Music Group. The statement said the company stands with the black community and "will NOT stay silent about the brutality and unfair treatment that has plagued our nation recently and far too long."

Harry Styles tweeted "JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD" on Friday, along with a link to a change.org petition calling for the officers involved to be fired and face immediate charges.

Kumail Nanjiani also called on his followers to take action.

"Text 'Floyd' to 55156 to demand DA @HennepinAtty charge them with murder. #JusticeForFloyd," he tweeted.

Sarah Silverman used some choice words when speaking about the incident.

"Police fire tear gas into a peaceful protest of George Floyd’s murder but stood like the (expletive) Queen’s Guard when white (expletive) w guns storm the state capitol protesting HAVING 2 WEAR A MASK IN A PANDEMIC," she tweeted. "We live in 2 America’s & if this doesn’t make it clear ur a dummy"

Halsey tweeted, "rest in power #GeorgeFloyd an unarmed black man who was murdered by a police officer ON CAMERA. this system is failing the people it should protect. where is the accountability?"

Taylor Swift shared a photo of Floyd on her Instagram Stories with the hashtag #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.

Diddy shared an image of Floyd's name with a praying hands emoji to his Instagram. He added a heartbreak emoji in his caption.

Candace Cameron Bure shared a lengthy post to her Instagram along with an illustration of Floyd.

"Most of you come to my page for happy, uplifting and positive content. But tonight, my heart is wrecked over the racial injustice that has been happening for ages and continues to happen today. I can’t comprehend it," she wrote. "I couldn’t watch the video the first time through. I forced myself to watch a second time to the end so my heart would be ripped open raw with tears, sorrow, empathy and anger."

She continued, "I’m reading your posts on how I can help. I don’t know how powerful sharing on Instagram is, but I won’t be silent. We are one race, the human race. I pray for this country and the sin in all of us. I pray for God’s mercy. I pray for justice."

Jamie Foxx shared an image of the kneeling cop alongside a photo of Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest.

"In the words of @tyrinturner “now you get it...” #changecourse" he captioned the photo, posted on Wednesday.

On Friday, Foxx joined advocates at a press conference in Minneapolis, where he gave a speech about Floyd's death and police brutality.

"It overcomplicates everything as a black man trying to tell his son or his daughter how to function in life," Foxx said. "Even the things that we've taught them don't seem to work."

Foxx said he was speaking out not as a celebrity, but as an average citizen.

"All I wanted to do today was let you know that I'm not a celebrity," he said. "I'm from Terrell, Texas. These are my brothers. This means everything, because at the end of the day, when we see you guys out here on the front line, we want to let you know that you got support... God bless George and his family."

Cynthia Erivo shared an IGTV of her singing Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free." 

"When I don’t have words I sing, when my heart hurts I sing, to watch yet another black body cut down hurt so I sing," she captioned the video.

Kim Kardashian West shared an illustration of Floyd along with a heartbreak emoji and the hashtag #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.

Viola Davis wrote a powerful message on her Instagram.

"This is what it means to be Black in America. Tried. Convicted. Killed for being Black. We are dictated by hundreds of years of policies that have restricted our very existence and still have to continue to face modern day lynchings," she wrote. "Here's the thing......America will never be great until we can figure out a way for it to work for EVERYBODY!!! ....... RIP George Floyd"

André Leon Talley shared his thoughts on Instagram with a call to action for his followers.

"I haven't slept since I saw this on the 7 p.m. CNN segment last night. Literally: I have not closed my eyes. This is genocide; this is lynching without a rope. This is murder," he wrote. "I am asking all decent and good people to call the mayor of Minneapolis 612 673 2100. Please voice your outcries and leave a voicemail for the mayor who fired the 4 satanic evils. We shall overcome. But we have to keep overcoming

every single day we live and breathe."

Mandy Moore called the video of the incident "abhorrent" on Instagram.

"He should be alive. Getting killed by the police is the 6th leading cause of death of young black men in this country," she wrote before addressing her "white friends" directly. "We can’t let our discomfort, ego, or belief that this work doesn’t include us, prevent us from acknowledging our privilege and that we have the burden of dismantling white supremacy. We do. We can not be complacent. We can not be silent. We need to have this conversation with our families and friend and coworkers. Let’s turn outrage into action."

2 Chainz said on Instagram, "I can’t post the video" with an angry emoji. 

"I can still see the killer with his hands in his pocket and knee on the neck of a handcuffed black man🙏🏿rest in peace 🙏🏿 #georgefloyd and I hate him and all the cops that was there for it," he continued. 

Zoe Kravitz also wrote on Instagram: "GEORGE FLOYD my heart breaks for you and your family. #policebrutality needs to stop. #sayhisname"

Liam Payne also shared an image of Floyd to his Twitter.

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Contributing: Ryan W. Miller, Jordan Culver, Charles Trepany, Morgan Hines and Gary Dinges USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: George Floyd death: Rihanna, Beyonce, Harry Styles react