Sharpton rips ‘policing’ at Brown funeral
By: Kendall Breitman
August 25, 2014 01:21 PM EDT
The Rev. Al Sharpton used his eulogy for slain 18-year-old Michael Brown to rip the conduct of local cops and to call for America to “deal with” the kind of policing that has plagued the Ferguson, Mo., community in the weeks since Brown’s death.
”America, it’s time to deal with policing,” Sharpton said Monday at funeral services for Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, addressing a crowd that included politicians, civil rights activists and celebrities, as well as many members of the Brown family. “We are not the haters, we’re the healers.”
Sharpton has been a vocal activist against police brutality within the African-American community, and has been in Ferguson during the weeks following Brown’s death as protests broke out and sometimes turned violent. Sharpton was also among the thousands of protesters who marched against police brutality in Staten Island on Saturday.
“America is going to have to come to terms with [the fact that] there’s something wrong, that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, but we don’t have money for training, and money for public education and money to train our children,” Sharpton said.
He continued, “How do you think we look when the world can see you can’t come up with a police report, but you can find a video,” referring to a surveillance video released of Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store shortly before he was shot. This reference led guests of the funeral to give Sharpton a standing ovation.
“How do you think we look when young people march nonviolently, asking for the land of the free and the home of the brave to hear their cry and you put snipers on the roof and pointed guns at them. How do we look?” Sharpton said.
The White House sent three officials to attend Brown’s funeral, according to CNN. The officials include Broderick Johnson, who heads the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, Marlon Marshall and Heather Foster, who both work with the White House Office of Public Engagement. Marshall attended high school with Brown’s mother, according to CNN.
Other guests traveling from the beltway include Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). Waters is a St. Louis native and attended the funeral with her family.
“I have closely followed the daily reports regarding the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death and have paid close attention to eyewitness accounts of the shooting. I have also continued to watch the televised protests that have been going on for the past 13 days in Ferguson,” Waters said in a statement before the services. “I am reminded of the police shootings that have taken place in the Los Angeles area, and the role I played in attempting to articulate the pain and hopelessness of the people of South Los Angeles following the Rodney King beating by L.A. police officers.”
Sharpton called for a similar movement in the aftermath of Brown’s death.
“We can’t have a fit, we’ve got to have a movement,” he said. “A fit, you get mad and run out for a couple of nights. A movement means we’ve got to be here for the long haul and turn our chance into change, our demonstration into legislation. We have got to stay on this so we can stop this.”
Also seen at the funeral were Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., and director Spike Lee.
By 8 a.m. Central Time, about 200 people were already lined up in front of the church, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The church can hold 2,500 people.
After weeks of protests and international media attention, Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson on Aug. 20. On that same day, a grand jury began its investigation into evidence to decide whether Wilson should be criminally charged for Brown’s death.
On Sunday, Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., asked protesters at a St. Louis Peace Rally to consider Monday a day of silence.
“Tomorrow, all I want is peace while my son is being laid to rest,” Brown Sr. said.
Sharpton acknowledged looting and violence in his eulogy, saying that Brown would not want to be remembered for the riots his death sparked, but the hopeful change that will be brought in the future.
“We need those that are bad cops — we are not anti-police, we respect police — but those police that are wrong need to be dealt with just like those in our community who are wrong need to be dealt with,” Sharpton said as he finished his eulogy by repeating “justice is going to come.”