Wednesday, in reacting to the news that a grand jury declined to indict the New York City Police Officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, so-called civil rights leader Al Sharpton held a press conference at the National Action Network with the family of Eric Garner.
Partial transcript as follows:
We are dealing with a national crisis where in the last 90 days, from those three cases to a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland whose funeral was just today. How many people have to die before people understand this is not an illusion, this is a reality that America has got to come to terms with. And no amount of secret grand juries with local prosecutors that put up evidence that we do not know is going to stop people from raising the questions and demanding the answers. We are not advocating violence. We are asking that police violence stop.
Don’t make the kids or the adults that are protesting the one wrong. We are marching against wrong. We are standing against wrong. And here you now have a man choked to death on videotape and says 11 times “I can’t breathe.” It is against the police department’s guidelines to have a choke hold. It is against the law to have excessive force. But if you are choking a man who is down with other police helping and hovering over him, even if the guidelines don’t kick in your mind, even if the law don’t kick on your mind, after 11 times of “I can’t breathe” when does your humanity kick in?
We have called on, from the beginning, the federal government to intervene in police cases. We have no confidence in local, state prosecutions because state prosecutors work hand in hand with the local police. They do not have the independence and lack of conflict. This is not a position we are taking tonight. We said this from the beginning. The mother and wife of Eric Garner and their attorneys and I have had two meetings with the federal government and the Eastern District and had press conferences at both times. So you know we’ve asked for this. We’ve asked for this now nationally because of Ferguson, because of Cleveland and here. I was in the meeting at the White House with the president as they began moving. The Attorney General talked with Mrs. Garner and me today. They talked about an independent investigation. But let’s be clear. Let’s be clear that while we ask for the federal government to move, we are moving that way on Saturday, a week from this Saturday, December 13th, we are having a National March in Washington, D.C., where we are calling for the Justice Department to take this case and the case in Ferguson and the case in Cleveland. It is time for a national march to deal with a national crisis.”
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