The Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights attorney Ben Crump are shifting their focus to a white teenager who was killed by police in Arkansas, after advocacy efforts that largely focused on Black individuals who have died during police encounters.
Sharpton and Crump were two of the most prominent figures following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May 2020 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Crump, who represented Floyd’s family after the incident, has also represented the families of Breonna Taylor and Michael Brown, both of whom were fatally shot by police.
Sharpton and Crump are now drawing attention to the death of 17-year-old Hunter Brittain, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop on June 23.
An officer was relieved of his duties earlier this month after failing to turn on his body camera during his alleged involvement in Brittain’s death.
Crump told The Washington Post in an interview that Brittain’s death will help muster “greater interracial support” amid a push to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress because “his blood is now on this legislation, just as Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s blood is.”
The lawyer said the picture of an unarmed white teenager being fatally shot by police will “start to change the narrative and perception of the problem of police violence as the country sees that children of all races and ethnicities can be victims.”
“It is closer to home now, for people who probably could not comprehend when it was happening to Black teenagers,” he told the Post.
Crump, who has been called “Black America’s attorney general” by Sharpton, emphasized that his mission has always been to “make sure that all our children can get home safely and not be killed by the police who are supposed to protect and defend them."
“We have always said it’s about trying to make sure that all our children can get home safely and not be killed by the people who are supposed to protect and defend them” Crump told the newspaper.
Before Brittain’s memorial service last week, Sharpton told reporters: “Hunter did nothing wrong, just like we felt George Floyd did nothing wrong. But if we segregate how we react, then we’re wrong.”