Politics took center stage at a memorial service for George Floyd on Thursday as the Rev. Al Sharpton denounced President Donald Trump and longed for the days when the Obama administration sought to police the police.
Floyd died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest, triggering protests and riots across the country.
The service in Minneapolis was attended by high-profile Democrats including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, as well as Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California, according to Fox News.
During his eulogy, Sharpton took an apparent shot at Trump for questioning the birthplace of former President Barack Obama.
“Man comes out of a single-parent home, educates himself, and rises up and becomes president of the United States,” Sharpton said, referring to Obama.
“And, you,” he said, referring to Trump, “ask him for his birth certificate, because you can’t take your knee off our neck.”
Sharpton also criticized Trump’s way of holding a Bible, referencing a photo of the president taken during his visit to a church in Washington, D.C., that had been damaged during riots linked to Floyd’s death.
“I’ve been preaching since I was a little boy, I’ve never seen anyone hold a Bible like that,” Sharpton said.
“If he’s watching us today, I would like him to open that Bible and I’d like him to read Ecclesiastes 3: ‘To every season, there’s a time and a purpose.’”
“I come to tell you America, this is the time of building with accountability in the criminal justice system,” he later added
Sharpton also criticized Trump’s campaign slogan.
“Talk about make America great,” Sharpton said. “Great for who and great when? We’re going to make America great for everybody for the first time.”
Sharpton referenced the policies of the Obama era, in which the Justice Department would investigate police departments accused of violating the civil rights of minority individuals in high-profile incidents.
“We’ve got to go back to consent decrees,” he said, referencing agreements made with cities such as Baltimore to initiate changes in policing.
Sharpton portrayed Floyd as the victim of systemic racism.
“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 and dreamed to being is you kept your knee on our neck.”
Some denounced Sharpton’s invective:
That’s sharpton. He will use every chance he gets to drive a racial wedge and try to slam trump. https://t.co/8MWH0gnoxf
— BEAR, Sjodin (@BigPapaBear1313) June 5, 2020
President Trump has done more for the Black Community in three years than Al Sharpton has in an entire lifetime.
Having him at the memorial for George Floyd is a disgrace to his memory.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 4, 2020
AL SHARPTON IS A JOKE
He should also be showing up for the black babies who were shot & killed in Chicago and other places.
— Terrence K. Williams (@w_terrence) June 4, 2020
“George Floyd should not be among the deceased,” Sharpton said.
“He did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction.
“He died because of there has not been the corrective behavior that has taught this country that if you commit a crime, it does not matter whether you wear blue jeans or a blue uniform, you must pay for the crime you commit.”
Other memorial services for Floyd will follow, including one in his native Houston on Tuesday which presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden may attend, according to The Associated Press.
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