Rev. Al Sharpton rallied his supporters Saturday morning after an African-American man, placed in an apparent chokehold by NYPD officers, died while being arrested for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes Thursday afternoon.
Sharpton, standing with the family of the man, Eric Gardner, behind him, called the incident part of a “recurring” pattern of police brutality.
“There are many crises that we are dealing with but none has impacted more and more than the recurring problem with the New York City police,” he said, recalling another incident with the same police precinct 20 years ago. “We are going to stand and get different results. We want you to stand until we achieve justice with this family.”
Sharpton made it clear he was placing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on notice about the incident, which was captured in a shocking video where Garner repeatedly says he “can’t breathe” as multiple officers subdue him. Both de Blasio, a close Sharpton ally, and Bratton called for a “transparent investigation” of the matter on Friday. Chokeholds are against NYPD rules.
“This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now and whether the change that we feel has occurred, has occurred,” said Sharpton, a fierce critic of the police tactics used under de Blasio’s predecessors, Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. “A whole of 22 years … we have dealt with these cases. We are going to continue. In
Abner Louima, we won; but [in] others, we didn’t. And we are going to fight with all we have.”
He also told his supporters to be prepared for smears against Garner in order to protect the police officers involved.
“They are going to try and distract us. They’re going to try and scandalize the deceased. They’re going to try and come up with all kinds of stuff with the family. We’ve been in battles before and we know how they’re going to fight. Keep your eye on the prize and hold on. Do not allow yourself to be distracted,” Sharpton urged.
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