Al Sharpton Takes Off On White America: We Can’t Reach Our Potential With Your Knee On Our Necks

Al Sharpton Takes Off On White America: We Can’t Reach Our Potential With Your Knee On Our Necks

Al Sharpton takes off on white America. We can’t reach our potential with your knee on our necks, Sharpton said in a eulogy for George Floyd. Image: CNN Live in the sanctuary at North Central University, Minneapolis.

The Rev. Al Sharpton had strong words for white America at a memorial service held Thursday in Minneapolis to honor George Floyd, whose May 25 death in police custody inspired national rage and protests against racism and police brutality.

The protests are part of a 10-day public rebellionmostly peaceful but with some violence — after a bystander videotaped Floyd being tortured by a police officer. The officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as the man lay in the street.

The officer’s third-degree murder charge has been upgraded to second-degree and three more police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been criminally charged.

Floyd’s death symbolizes the oppression Black Americans have faced since the nation was founded, the Rev. Al Sharpton said while speaking to several hundred people gathered in the sanctuary at North Central University.

With Floyd’s family members present, Sharpton talked about how Floyd had called for his mother in his final minutes of life while begging the officer repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

Sharpton directed some of his words at white America.

“George Floyd’s story has been the story of Black folks,” Sharpton said. “Ever since 401 years ago,  the reason we could never be who we wanted is you kept your knee on our neck. We were smarter than the underfunded schools you had us in but you had your knee on our neck. We could run corporations and not hustle in the street but you had your knee on our neck.”

Floyd’s family members remembered their loved one as a kind, caring and loving person.

“We didn’t have much but we had a houseful of love,” said Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s youngest brother. “Without no father figure, he was big brother. He gave us a lot of great lessons. He would stand up for his family and friends. He would stand up for any injustice.”

Rodney Floyd asked the audience, “Can you please say his name?”

Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s nephew, described his uncle as “the biggest LeBron James fan.”

“I grew up in the same house with him,” Williams said. “I gravitated to him. I’m trying not to be sad. More than anything I want to say ‘thank you’ to him … (He was) loving, and caring, and someone I could count on no matter what.”

Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who is representing the Floyd family, named other deceased African Americans killed by the police. “When we fight for the least of us, we’re helping America live up to its creed…We’re helping America be America for all Americans,” Crump said.

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Sharpton, who is president of the National Action Network, said George Floyd died “of a common American criminal justice malfunction.”

Those in attendance observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence — the amount of time the officer had his knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck, according to the videotape.

“What we saw (on that video) was torture,” Crump said. “What we saw was inhumane. America, do not cooperate with evil. Join the young people protesting in the streets. We cannot cooperate with torture. George Floyd deserves better than that. We all deserve than that. His family deserves better than that. His children deserve better than that. We’re trying to make the constitution real for all Americans.”