NEW YORK — The Rev. Al Sharpton criticized efforts to mute the Black Lives Matter movement July 16, saying a sustained protest is the only way to force change.
“It’s mind changing time,” Sharpton told listeners during his weekly address at the National Action Network’s “House of Justice” in Harlem.
He urged others to ignore the calls from critics to scale back or stop rallies organized by the Black Lives Matter movement.
He spoke a day before the two-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, saying a series of unjustified killings by police officers demanded an outcry. Garner died in a police chokehold in the New York City borough of Staten Island on July 17, 2014.
“We promised the Erics of the world that we won’t stop until they change things,” Sharpton said. “It may take longer than we want but we’ve got to get there. There’s no better place to go.”
Sharpton said numerous protests create a climate for change and provide participants a sense of sanity amid rising gun-related violence. He also deplored the killing of police officers in Dallas last week.
“Don’t paint us as anti-cop. We are not anti-police. We’re anti-wrong,” he said.
Later, Sharpton led a march of over 100 people through Brooklyn. At intervals, they chanted “RIP Eric Garner,” ”No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe.”
Marching down Atlantic Avenue, Sharpton told a reporter: “We’re dying that two years later that we still have not seen justice and we wanted people to know that we were not going to let the fact that it’s been two years deter our aggressive activism.”
The march concluded in Prospect Park, where a taped message from Beyonce was played for the crowd.
“I’m very sorry I couldn’t be there tonight and I’m painfully sorry for your loss,” she said. “I’m committed to standing beside you and making sure Eric’s death was not in vain.”
Also marching was Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, 66, who told the crowd: “I am so glad that you all came out. Not only for the support of me but the support of all the mothers from all over the nation. Two years later we still haven’t gotten justice. … This is the kind of unity that we need.”