Rev. Al Sharpton and other prominent black community leaders Thursday called for a civil rights march in Washington, D.C., next week to protest the killings of two black men by police officers.

Sharpton’s National Action Network is organizing the National March Against Police Violence for Saturday, Dec. 13. His action comes, after separate grand juries declined to indict white officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City.


“The grand jury systems on the state level are broken and seems to lack the capacity to deal with police when you are dealing with questions of criminality and a killer,” Sharpton said at a media conference.

A flyer on the group’s website says Sharpton will be joined by the families of Garner, Brown, and Akai Gurley, a black man accidentally killed by a New York police officer in November.

Sharpton said he wants to harness the energy of nationwide protests into a direct call for “redress.”

He urged the Justice Department to create a special office to handle possible instances of police misconduct against minorities and to appoint special prosecutors to take cases where grand juries decide not to indict.

“All of these incidents, when taken together do not describe or encapsulate the sum of the concern, the sum of the outrage, the sum of the reawakening that you are seeing all across America today,” Marc Morial, the CEO of the National Urban League said at the press conference

He listed a number of cases of minorities who were injured or died after altercations with police.

Morial said the Brown and Garner cases showed “the abject, absolute failure of the criminal justice system to exercise the ability and the wherewithal to hold those who offend justice accountable."

He described the march as promoting “jobs and justice,” and likened it to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the famous 1963 march that culminated in Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream" speech.

“Marches and boycotts led to the ’64 Civil Rights Act, the ’65 Voting Rights Act,” Sharpton said, adding that he hopes next week’s march will inspire federal action.

Many community leaders, including the family of Michael Brown, have called for police to wear body cameras to provide video evidence in cases. President Obama announced this week that he wants Congress to set aside funds to help reimburse local police who buy body cameras.

In the case of Garner, though, a bystander caught the incident on video. It shows an officer pulling Garner to the ground by his neck. Garner can be heard repeatedly telling officers that he couldn’t breathe.

Sharpton said that the lack of an indictment in Garner’s death, despite a video, underscores the need for dramatic action.

“If one is to look at that video and say it’s not probable cause,” he said, “then I don’t know where probable cause has ever been established.”