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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Remembering George Floyd. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired June 9, 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, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Ben Crump has fought and stood for many cases. And he has with him a legal team, I'm sure that will be acknowledged, that are here, Brother Stewart, Lee Merritt and them.
We should not take for granted, when black lawyers take these cases like Crump has, they are targeted by their bar associations. They are targeted by people that are envious and jealous. We need civil rights lawyers that are there for civil rights, not for civil settlements. And that's why I give him recognition.
I must also recognize several families that are here that came at great sacrifice, but they wanted to be here to be part of this, because they understand the pain better than anyone, because they've gone through the pain. And I think that we should recognize the mother of Trayvon Martin, will you stand? The mother of Eric Garner, will you stand?
The sister of Botham Jean, will you stand? The family of Pamela Turner, right here in Houston, will you stand? The father of Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri, will you stand? The father of Ahmaud Arbery, will you stand?
All of these families came to stand with this family, because they know better than anyone else, the pain they will suffer from the loss that they have gone through.
I also want to thank all of those that helped to make this as easy as they could for the family. Certainly, we thank, again, those in the financial and entertainment world that immediately jumped up and said to the family that they wanted to help and to make sure that they didn't have to worry about expense. Tyler Perry and Robert Smith and Champion Floyd Mayweather and others that have come. It means a lot because it shows the world the weight of this. Brother Jamie Fox is with us today. Stand up Jamie. Al B. Sure! is in the house today.
So let me get into my message. I got Terrell Owens, everybody's sending me notes. I want you to turn briefly to the Book of Ephesians sixth chapter. Ephesians sixth chapter. Because I think that we need to understand what we're dealing with here.
Ephesians sixth chapter, it tells the story of why I think we need to really look at the situation differently. Because it talks about in Paul's letter to the Philippians, Ephesians -- OK I'm catching up with myself. It says in his letter to the Ephesians, he says, finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers and authorities. Against the powers of the darkness. Against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. Therefore put on the full armor of God so when the day of evil comes, you may be able to withstand your ground. May God add a blessing to the reading of His word.
We are not fighting some disconnected incidents. We are fighting an institutional, systemic problem that has been allowed to permeate since we were brought to these shores and we are fighting wickedness in high places. When you can put your knee on a man's neck and hold it there 8 minutes and 46 seconds, that's not even normal to a civilian, less known to a police officer. Try it when you go home to put your knee down on something and hold it there that long.
You got to be full of a lot of venom. Full of something that really motivates you to press down your weight that long and not give up. And to think that you're certified by the state to carry a badge and a gun and you got all of that in you means that we have permitted people to become officers of the law that ought to be somewhere else in society.
Imagine you pressing down on something eight minutes that's telling you I can't breathe, that's begging for their life, and you keep pressing, what kind of mentality is that? So how do we screen who police officers are? And how do we get to this place over and over again?
They told Eric Garner, put him in a chokehold, he said I can't breathe. Those three cops walked, no prosecution. Until the law is upheld and people know they will go to jail, they're going to keep doing it because they're protected by wickedness in high places.
How do you prevent crime in the hood? You scare others by saying if you do that, you're going to jail. Well how are you going to scare a bad cop if bad cops don't go to jail? How are you going to tell them that your fate is going to be bad if you go on the other side of the line when everybody else got away with it. Who taught these cops that they can do this to George was those that let the cops before this get away with this. And when they have the highest level of government that excuses it.
When some kids wrongly start violence that this family don't condone and none of us do. The president talks about bringing in the military, but he's not said one word about 8 minutes and 46 seconds of police murder of George Floyd. All he said, the family has my sympathy and all it is. He didn't give those in the other situations his sympathy. He challenged China on human rights. What about the human right of George Floyd?
The signal that we're sending is that if you are in law enforcement, that the law doesn't apply to you and I'm telling you that the law ought to especially apply to you. Because you're given special powers that others don't have. We don't have a badge representing the state. We don't have a gun we're carrying. We are not going through training.
We should expect more from you, and if you break the law, you ought to be expected to pay an even higher price. Because you're no better and you swore not to do that. So yes, it's nice that everybody wants to now study the problem. It's nice big corporations say we're going to throw money to study equal justice but if we went out here and did that to a young white kid, you wouldn't need no study, you'd know what to do, and you'd know what to do now.
Same Bible said do justice. All this family wants is justice. Oh it's nice to see some people change their mind, and the head of the NFL said, yes, maybe we was wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest. Well don't apologize. Give Colin Kaepernick a job back. Don't come with some empty apology.
Take a man's livelihood. Strip a man down of his talents and four years later when the whole world is marching, all of a sudden you go and do a FaceTime talking about you sorry. Minimizing the value of our lives. You sorry. Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down because when Colin took a knee, he took it for the families in this building and we don't want an apology, we want him repaid.
Equal justice. Equal fairness. We're not anti-anybody, we are trying to stop people from being anti-us. We want the law to apply equally, and you don't need a whole lot of studying about that. Yes, we need new laws. Yes, the Congress has stepped up, the Congressional Black Caucus has come. Yes, we need to close these no knock laws.
Yes, we need to stop where a policeman can just say based on what they thought, they can use lethal force. Yes, we need residency requirement. All of what they propose is what we need. But we have enough right now to prosecute policemen that hold somebody down 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
A man said to me -- I think a lot of people are confused. I was working out. I did a workout in the mornings. A man said to me, white fella in the place I was working out. He said, Reverend Al, I see you on TV and you're always talking about race.
I said, yeah? He said, but haven't we come a long way? I said, yeah, but you've got to understand how far we have to go and you got to understand how deep it is. He said, what do you mean? I said, about eight, nine years ago, a newspaper in New York did a background on my family and they found out Dr. Wright, that my great-grandfather was a slave in Ellenville, South Carolina.
I went down there with the newspaper and the other press, and we went to the graveyard and my great-grandfather was owned by the family of Strom Thurmond, the segregationist, and I went to the white church, to First Baptist Church and in the graveyard there were the tombstones and the whole about -- I'd say about a quarter of the cemetery, the tombstones, Ben Crump, was Thurmonds and Sharptons. And I said, you mean all of these? They said, wait a minute. The plantation your great grandfather was about a mile away. They buried the slaves there. They only put pebbles over their graves.
So it occurred to me that every time I write my name, sir, that is not my name. That's the name of who owned my great grandfather. That's how deep race is, that every time I write my name, I'm writing American history of what happened to my people.
I can't talk about what my great grandparents did. They were enslaved. And we're still being treated less than other. And until America comes to terms with what it has done and what it did, we will not be able to heal because you are not recognizing the wound.
Floyd could have been anybody. But then the reaction was not anything. Because somewhere I read in the Bible that God said he would pour out his spirit among all flesh. And that's why when I heard them talking about, they never thought they'd see young whites marching like they marching now.
All over the world, I seen grandchildren of slave masters, tearing down slave master statue over in England, and put it in the river. I pour out my spirit among all flesh. I've seen whites walking past curfews saying, Black lives matter. No justice, no peace. I pour out my spirit among all flesh.
You have now lived to where you've sown wickedness. And now you have to reap the wrath of those that don't want to be wicked no more. That that a man sows, that shall he also reap. So we come because God, in his own way, he always wanted a minister to set it right. God always uses unlikely people to do his will.
If George Floyd had been an Ivy league school graduate, and one of these ones with a long title, we would have been accused of reacting to his prominence. If he'd been a multimillionaire, they would have said that we were reacting to his wealth. If he had been a famous athlete, as he was on the trajectory to be, we'd have said we were reacting to his fame.
But God took an ordinary brother from the third ward, from the housing projects, that nobody thought much about but those that knew him and loved him. He took the rejected stone, the stone that the builder rejected. They rejected him for jobs. They rejected him for positions. They rejected him to play certain teams. God took the rejected stone and made him the cornerstone of a movement that's going to change the whole wide world.
I'm glad he wasn't one of these polished, bourgeois brothers, because we'd have still thought we was of no value. But George was just George. And now you have to understand if you father any one of us it's a value to all of us.
Oh, if you would have had any idea that all of us would react, you'd have took your knee off his neck. If you had any idea that everybody from those in the third ward to those in Hollywood would show up in Houston and Minneapolis, and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, you'd have took your knee off his neck.
If you had any idea that preachers, white and black, was going to line up in a pandemic, when we're told the stay inside and we come out and march in the streets at the risk of our health, you'd have took your knee off his neck, because you thought his neck didn't mean nothing. But God made his neck to connect his head to his body. And you have no right to put your knee on that neck.
Genesis II said that God formed man. And Jamie, they say he breathed breath, the breath of life to make him a live human being, which means that breath comes from God. Breath is how God gives you life. Breath is not some coincidental kind of thing that happens.
Breath is a divine decision that God made. Some babies are born stillborn. God decides to blow breath in them. Breath is sanctified, breath is sacred. You don't have the right to take God's breath out of anybody you can't put breath in their body. But you don't look at it that way because of your wickedness, principalities, darkness.
You're sitting now trying to figure out how you're going to stop the protests rather than how you're going to stop the brutality. You're calling your cabinet in, trying to figure out how it's going to affect your vote rather than how it's going to affect our lives. You're scheming on how you can spin the story rather than you can achieve justice.
Wickedness in high places. You take rubber bullets and tear gas to clear out peaceful protestors, and then take a Bible and walk in front of a church and use a church as a prop. Wickedness in high places. You ain't been walking across that street when the church didn't have the boards up. You weren't holding up no Bible when Arbery was killed in Brunswick, when Taylor was killed in Louisville. Wickedness in high places. But God got some people that'll stand up.
Let me tell you this. Jesus told the story that there was a man laying by the side of the road. He'd been robbed and beaten. They said one man came by that was his same race, his fellow brother, and he kept walking.
Then another man came by that was steep and well-read in the scriptures. New every scripture, knew how to quote the book back and forward. But he only quoted the book, he never lived by the book. And he kept walking. But Jesus said a third man came by and he stopped and looked at the man. He wasn't the same race, wasn't the same religion. But he picked the man up and he took care of restoring the man to his rightful being. And Jesus called him the Good Samaritan.
The problem is too many of you been walking by the Eric Garners, been walking by the Trayvon Martins, been walking by the Arberys, been walking by. And now we stopped for George Floyd. And I'm in Houston today because I don't want nobody to call me a passerby. Jamie here because he's not a passerby. All of you are here because we're not passerbys. And we're going be back in Minneapolis when the trial start because you may pack the police union on one side, but the righteous is going to be on the other side of that courtroom.
It's time that we reclaim the righteous in this country. Well Reverend, we don't know if we got the money and we got the political power. Well, we got the vote, and we got something that we had before we had the vote. We had God on our side.
That's why, when they was even in slavery, they used to have church out in the slave quarters, because they understood that if they called on God, that God would answer prayer. And the same God that brought us from chattel slavery is still on the throne. The same God that brought us from the back of the bus is still on the throne. The same God that brought us from Jim Crow is still on the throne. And if we are right, he'll fight our battle, and we'll put George's name in history where they say, that's the one that they shouldn't have touched. That's the neck they shouldn't have bent down on.
Because if my people, called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from your wicked ways. Then you will hear from heaven. I will heal the land.
I want to say, we have said we going to keep marching. We going to keep protesting. August 28th, we going to Washington by the tens of thousands. We're going to have a national March on the anniversary of I Have a Dream. The Floyd family and other family is going to lead it. But I want to say this before I leave to the Floyd family. Don't ever forget in your darkest hour, that be not dismayed. Whatever be tired, God will take care of you. I'm in Wright's church. I can preach a little bit. Beneath his wing of love abide. God will take care of you.
I was like Floyd. I grew up with daddy gone. Mama had to make it with welfare checks. I used to go and shop with the food stamps. A lot of folks say that, but the way I know for lowness, if you've been on food stamps is I ask you what color was your food stamps?
Because if you don't know the different colors, you just fronting. But I used to slip the little gray slip so my friends wouldn't know I was on food stamps. But mama told me something I never forgot. She say, He may not be there when you want him, but He's always on time. The Lord will make a way out of no way.
And I can tell you 40 years later, he walks with me. He talks with me. He tells me that I am his own. He's been food when I was hungry. He been water when I was thirsty. He's my rock, my sword and shield. My wheel in the middle of the wheel. He's the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star. He woke me up this morning, started me on my way. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Let me say this. We got to go to the cemetery. Let me say this. I saw Michael Brown Senior here. And I thought about, I told him this story. 9/11 happened, Congressman Green, and we were all flustered in New York. They closed down the bridges, closed down the streets, closed the trains. I had to walk all the way to my headquarters of National Action Network.