MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Thursday afternoon, Rev. Al Sharpton held a prayer vigil at the site where George Floyd died after he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers.
Sharpton, a civil rights leader and Baptist minister, has previously spoken on the topic of police violence against African-Americans – notably about the death of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by an NYPD officer in 2014.
Garner’s last words, just like Floyd’s, were “I can’t breathe.”
Standing amidst a crowd on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Sharpton was joined by Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr.
In 2014, Sharpton said, a grand jury in New York had decided not to indict the officer who choked Garner. “If they had prosecuted that officer, maybe Floyd would be alive today,” he said.
“Why do I say that at the scene of his death? It’s because we’re going to make sure that this prosecution goes down so we’re not somewhere five years from now saying they should have prosecuted,” said Sharpton.
As he spoke, he continued to call for the arrest of the four officers involved with Floyd’s death.
“The reason you see anger in Minneapolis is because this is not the first time,” Sharpton said. Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis Police in November of 2015. Less than a year later, Philando Castile was pulled over and shot by a St. Anthony police officer. Both incidents led to nation-wide protests.
Sharpton then handed the microphone over to Carr, who said she came to stand in solidarity with Floyd’s family. She then commended Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for his swift involvement in the firing of the four officers. In her son’s case, she said, it had taken five years for the officer to be fired.
Vice president of City Council Andrea Jenkins, and State Senator Jeff Hayden also spoke at the vigil.
Sharpton said he would return in the coming week for Floyd’s memorial.
“There’s a difference between peace and quiet. Some people just want quiet. The price for peace,” he said, “is justice.”