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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Remembering George Floyd; Al Sharpton Give the Eulogy. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired June 4, 2020 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: -- nigger go home. But when I was here last Thursday and Ms. Carr and I was headed back to the airport, I stopped near the police station. And as I was talking to a reporter, a young white girl she didn't look no older than 11 years old, she tagged my suit jacket and I looked around and I braced myself and she looked at me and she said, no justice, no peace.
It's a different time. It's a different season. And if my bible- carrying guy in front of that boarded up church, if I got him to open up the bible, I want you to remember something. You know, I was late last October to an appointment because the time changed, and I was still -- my watch was on the wrong time. Now once a year time goes forward, and if you don't, Congresswoman Omar, move your watch, you are going to find yourself an hour late, not because your watch was wrong, but you had your watch on the wrong time.
Well I come to tell you that are sitting in Washington, talking about militarizing the country, thinking that you can sell whoop tickets to people who have had enough of abuse, I come to tell you can get on the TV, but you are on the wrong time. Time is out for not holding you accountable. Time is out for you making excuses. Time is out for you trying to stall. Time is out for empty words and empty promises. Time is out for you filibustering and trying to stall the arm of justice.
This is the time. We won't stop. We going to keep going until we change the whole system of justice.
Our organizations have called this a day of mourning, NAACP, National Urban League, Legal Defense Fund, Black Women's Roundtable, Lawyers Committee, all got together, said we're going to have a day of mourning. But then we are going to come out of this day of mourning, because of some of by experts, Sherrilyn Ifill and others that know the legal field, have outlined a legal process that we must enforce, everything from residents to dealing with police background not being hidden.
I talked to Governor Andrew Cuomo today in New York, he says, we've got to change 58, where the backgrounds stop of policeman. We need to know if they
stop you, they find out everything you ever did. Why don't we know when policemen have a pattern?
We got to go back to consent decrees. Under the Obama administration, they had put certain cities with patterns and practices under consent decrees. Reverend Jamal Brian to know when he was pastoring in Baltimore, that they put it under consent decree. One of the first things that happened in the next administration was they stopped the consent decree. We have specific policies that need to happen. Therefore, I'm glad Martin III is here today. Because on August 28, the 57th anniversary of the march on Washington, we're going back to Washington, Martin.
That's where your father stood in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial and said, I have a dream. But we are going back this August 28 to restore and recommit that dream, to stand up because just like in one era we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights, this is the era to deal with policing and criminal justice. We need to go back to Washington and stand up, black, white, Latino, Arab, in the shadows of Lincoln, and tell them this is the time to stop this.
We, Martin and I talked about this. I've asked Reverend Bryant to get the faith leaders together. I talk to Randy White about the labor leaders.
Oh no, we going to organize in the next couple of months in every region, not only for a march, but for a new process. And it's going to be led by the Floyd family, and it's going to be led by the Garner family, and it is going to be led by those families that have suffered this and knows the pain and knows what it is to be neglected.
And it's going to be getting us ready to vote, not just for who is going to be in the White House, but the statehouse and the city councils that allowed these policing measures to go unquestioned. We are going to change the time. Let me say this to the family who has shown such great grace and real level and balanced thinking, and that's why I want them to help lead this. And I think one of the greatest speakers of our time, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, I've asked come and speak. We need to break down because you all don't know what time it is. You all are operating like it's yesterday.
And the reason you all are late catching up to what these protests mean is because you didn't turn your clock forward. Talking about make America great, great for who and great when? We are going to make America great for everybody for the first time.
Never was great for blacks. It never was great for Latinos. It wasn't never great for others. It wasn't great for women. Your women had to march to get the right to vote. But lastly is the religious side. I was reading and kept thinking
about how I was a little embarrassed, because when I heard that George at this point of suffering this brutal attack, called for his mama. I said to attorney Crump, I said well I appreciate talking to his brothers and them on the phone, but I want to talk to his mother. He said, his mother passed. I said, his mother passed? But he was calling for his mother. And I thought about it, because I was raised by a single mother, and sometimes the only thing between us and our conditions was our mothers. Sometimes the only thing that we had that would take danger away was our mothers.
The only ones that would make sure the food was on the table was our mother. I know why George was calling for mama. But then, as I had got that all placed in my mind, and I realized why I was always calling. And my mother died eight years ago, but I still try to talk to her. Sometimes just dial the cellphone to hear the voicemail on her phone that I never cut off. I still want to reach out to mama.
But talking to Quincy last night, one of his five children. Quincy said, you know, I was thinking, maybe he was calling his mother, because at the point that he was dying, his mother was stretching her hands out and saying, come on, George, I will welcome you where the wicked will cease from troubling, where the weary will be at rest, there's a place where police don't put knees on you, George. There's a place that prosecutors don't drag their feet. Maybe mama said come on, George, there is a God that still sits high, but he looks down low and he'll make a way out of no way. This God is still on the throne.
The reason we can fight, I don't care who's in the White House, there is another house that said, if we'll fight, he'll fight our battle. If we stand up, he'll hold us up. So, as we leave here today, I say to this family, I know that years ago we told them, Reverend Jackson told us keep hope alive. Then I know that President Obama wrote a book about hope. But I want you to know, in my life, there's times that I lost hope. Things can happen like this that'll dash your hope, but there is something that is sister to hope, called faith.
Faith is the substance of things to hope for, the evidence of things unseen. Faith is when you got a pile of bills and no money, but you say he will provide all of my needs. Faith is when you've got no medicine in the cabinet, and you're sick in your body, but you say, he's a doctor that never lost a patient, and he'll drive tears from my eyes. Faith is when your friends walk out. When your loved ones turned their back. But you say, I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me now. We didn't come this far by luck. We didn't come this far by some fate. We come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word. He never, he never, he never failed me yet, from the outhouse to the White House, we come a long way. God will. God shall. God will. God always has. He'll make a way for his children.
Go on home, George. Get your rest, George. You changed world, George. We're going to keep marching, George. We're going to keep fighting, George. We done turned the cop, George, we're going forward, George. Timeout. Timeout. Timeout. Hezekiah Walker. We asked, gospel great, Hezekiah Walker, to sing a
song for the family. After which Derrick Johnson of the NAACP asked me, attorney Crump, we're going to stand for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That was the time that George was on the ground. And you all over the world to stand with us for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. And make that commitment for justice in the name of George.
I want to thank the members of the Congressional Black Caucus for being with us. I want you to stand. I want to thank the son and heir and co-convener Dr. Martin Luther King III for being with us. I want to thank the mayor and the governor and their brides for being with the family. Senator Amy Klobuchar of the state of Minnesota. I want to thank my mentor and one who's fought this fight for more than a half a century, Reverend Jesse Lewis Jackson is with us. And his spokesman for Rainbow Push, Jonathan Luther Jackson. I want to thank from the entertainment world Kevin Hart. He told me don't mention he is here, so don't clap. Stand up, Kevin. We joke with each other. Brother beloved, stand up, brother, brother Ludacris. Tyrese Gibson -- who's an extraordinary activist in his own right. Master P. The one and only the creative genius Will Packer is with us today.
And a brother, we've marched together and done a lot of things he does not just put his name on somebody's petition he puts his body on the line, brother T.I. is in the house.
I want this brother, one of the greatest gospel singers alive. Is Tiffany here? Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. I didn't want to announce it and say I embarrassed her. Let me tell you something, one of the most popular outstanding artists that is also committed. I've read her interview, she thinks I'm old and don't read stuff, but I do. And she's been committed and saying the right things and she wanted to be here today and I was so busy joking with Kevin, I didn't even look at her, let welcome our sister beloved, sister Tiffany Haddish. She's in the house.
Well, I'm going to announce all the rest -- wait a minute, you all don't start introducing folk, I got them all. Let us hear a selection from brother Hezekiah Walker.
BISHOP HEZEKIAH WALKER, PASTOR, LOVE FELLOWSHIP TABERNACLE: Let's have some church for a little while. You all ready to have some church. I came all the way from Brooklyn, New York to do this for George and the family. The song says every praise is that is unto you all. Let do a couple. Let's stand to our feet. Everybody, come on. Come on, put your hands together. Come on. Come on. Come on.
CHOIR SINGS: Every praise is to our God. Every word of worship with one accord Every praise every praise is to our God. Sing hallelujah to our God
(CHOIR SINGS "EVERY PRAISE")
SHARPTON: As we remain standing, I want to recognize Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement. Brother Bellecourt, we're honored that you came. Thank you.
And let me say, they recognize someone yell out the state chair of the NAACP and many of Black Lives Matter, many of the grass roots organization that have been doing the protests on the ground in Minneapolis and around the country, movements are about everybody. We don't exclude anybody.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: That is the Reverend Al Sharpton who gave the eulogy now calling out some of the people in the crowd and doing some political work. As he did as well during his eulogy here. And I have to say that he called himself the blower-upper during the eulogy and if you were uncomfortable in parts of that eulogy, it's probably on purpose from the Reverend Al Sharpton. That's what he does, that's what he wants. He wants you to think about your actions and our actions and the actions of this country, and to put people as we say on blast for their action or lack of.
Talking about getting your knee off our necks. About the history of this country when it comes to people of color. Speaking of the former President and making really -- had no hesitation about talking about the current President and the birther issue and so on and so forth. And the current President using what he calls a bible as a prop and religion as a prop with a stunt two days ago in Washington. But all of this part of the memorial service for George Floyd.
What kept running through my mind, Brooke, is a couple things. Number one is how many of these services have we not seen, hundreds or thousands of people who have lost loved ones for police brutality or injustice in some way through the criminal justice system that we don't see on our television sets.
And for those of you concerned and I would not be a journalist if I did not talk about this, is the social distancing, just so you know, attendees at this memorial service in Minneapolis were asked to socially distance themselves, the speaker at the podium before asked the attendees to sit with an open seat between them in an effort to socially distance a crowd. A number of attendees you can see there wearing masks. Others were not wearing masks as we know. As we have been reporting for months on this network that services like this can be super spreader events for the coronavirus. And we are in the middle of a pandemic.
But people, this family, their representatives, they chose to get together and do this and we must be respectful. But we do have to report that for some people watching at home they are asking, I just came from a Zoom funeral, I didn't get to see my loved one, you know, send them off. But this is happening, and this is how they chose to do it. But the part, Brooke, that really got me is when the Reverend Al Sharpton talked about him calling for his mother. And as a mama's boy, you know --
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I do know.
LEMON: I don't go anywhere without my mama.
BALDWIN: I do know. LEMON: And I talk to her several times a day and I've been texting her throughout this service talking about the same things that I just mentioned. We talked about, you know, the folks there, she would say I hope everybody's wearing masks and being safe there. We were talking over texts about the political. There was a political tone to this as well. But this is something that you will see in just about every single black church on Sunday, the same issues that Reverend Al Sharpton addressed.
Maybe not a sharp. Pardon, no pun intended, as here. But you will hear that. And that's the message, that's the message for George Floyd, the change that they hope will come from this from his death as his daughter, his young 6-year-old daughter said, my daddy changed the world.
BALDWIN: Yes, yes, and you get that sense from hearing from members of the family, right? And from Ben Crump, the attorney saying now is the time. Now is the opportunity talking about the two justice systems in this country and there should be one, and this is the opportunity to have one justice system.
And what you said off the top, I mean my gosh, when Reverend Sharpton just came back to that refrain, get off our necks, get off our necks. He said this, we don't want any favors, just get off of us and we can do and be whatever we want to be.
LEMON: Yes. Well, that's the thing. Listen, Al Sharpton is very polarizing quite honestly. And I know Al Sharpton. Known him for years, very polarizing, but Al Sharpton says what he means and there is a reason that the family chose Al Sharpton to do this eulogy. Is because this is the type of message that they wanted to send. They wanted someone who would light a fire under America. They wanted someone who was as Al Sharpton said, himself, a self-proclaimed -- what did he say he was self-proclaimed blower-upper.
LEMON: That people came to him because they wanted all of this stuff. Whatever their issue is blasted. He put people on blast. America on blast. Corporate America. Political America. The sports world. Talked about what celebrities were doing and so on and so forth. That was the message coming today. Let's bring in Laura Coates and Bakari Sellers.
Laura and Bakari, as we sit here and watch this, this is -- they are taking 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the minutes almost 9 minutes that George Floyd was on that ground, on the road there. The blacktop as we would say when I was a kid, saying he couldn't breathe. I can't breathe and here we are. So, I say if that message made you uncomfortable, good, it makes you think. Bakari, what do you say to that?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Al Sharpton has given the eulogies so much. That's the first thing that crossed my mind. Like, Al Sharpton's here again having to do something that he does extremely well, which is, deliver a powerful message to the country but deliver a healing word.
You know, I think people have to realize how much faith at this moment means to people of color in this country in particular. And when you go through so much trauma and so much pain, you'll appreciate this, Don, and even Laura, you've got those women who sit in the first two rows with the real big hats.
LEMON: That you can't see when you're a kid. We've got about 30 seconds here, Bakari, so I want to get Laura in but go on quickly.
SELLERS: Yes. I'm just saying that it's that healing and it's that nourishment that today's sermon and eulogy provided just like those ladies with those big hats. I know it's Laura's (INAUDIBLE)
LEMON: Go ahead, Laura, what do you want to say?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I was just going to say it was so poignant to me is just a notion that Reverend Al Sharpton has been in this position, not just in recent times. But he's still fighting which tells you that this is still so pervasive even after all of the years that we have been looking for civil rights and equality and equal justice for all.
And what was so poignant to me was the idea harkening back to making powerful feel uncomfortable as we heard from President Obama yesterday. And also, about the idea of, you know, using light. He used a roach analogy about turning on the light to make -- those people are scattering and following the injustices. We see that light as the anti-septic, as the cellphones are the anti-septic at this point in time.
And finally, the idea of prosecutors dragging their feet. It reminded me of the Brown V. Board cases of all deliberate speed and having to still intervene even if there has been some semblance of justice. That we actually have to force accountability at all different levels and include all branches of government. It was so powerful. So poignant, coming from him, in particular.
BALDWIN: I just want to thank all of you for being here, for being with us through honoring and celebrating George Floyd and, of course, our coverage will continue. But it's been an honor.
LEMON: I love you all. It's an honor to work with all of you.
BALDWIN: I love you. It's an honor.
LEMON: To have this experience with you, so, thank you all.
BALDWIN: It's an honor. Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you, Laura, thank you, Bakari. Thanks, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Let's go to Washington now with --- END