Rev. Al Sharpton called for the fundamental reform of U.S. police force policies during an emotional and wide-ranging eulogy for Michael Brown, the African-American teen killed in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month.
“We are required to leave here today and change things,” Sharpton said Monday during Brown’s funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. “There’ve been other times in history that became seminal moments. This is one of those moments.”
Sharpton connected Brown’s death to that of Eric Garner, an African-American man who died in July while being arrested by the NYPD for allegedly selling untaxed individual cigarettes. The memories of Garner, Brown, and other victims of alleged police brutality, Sharpton said, highlight the need for the police departments to change their priorities.
“The policies of this country cannot go unchallenged. We cannot have aggressive policing of low-level crimes and can’t deal with the higher level. Something strange that you can get all these guns into the hood but you run around chasing folks selling loosie cigarettes and walking in the middle of the street. There’s something crazy about that kind of policing!” he exclaimed.
Sharpton also condemned looters and violence in the protests that have rocked Ferguson since Brown died on Aug. 9. At the same time, Sharpton condemned those who would simply lament police misconduct without taking action to rectify the problem.
“I understand that nobody gonna help us if we don’t help ourselves. Sitting around, feeling sorry for ourselves won’t solve the problems,” he said. “Sitting around having ghetto pity parties rather than organising and strategising and putting our differences aside.”
The veteran civil rights activist concluded by pulling out a bible and declaring justice is inevitable for Brown, whose death is currently being investigated by both local and federal authorities.
“I turned to the end of the book. I don’t know how long the investigation will be. I don’t know how long the journey will be. But I know how this story is going to end!” he said. “I’ve been to the end of the book. Justice is going to come. Justice is going to come!”
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