Al Sharpton, Floyd family announce march on Washington in August

The Rev. Al Sharpton, during his eulogy for George Floyd on Thursday afternoon, called for a march on Washington on Aug. 28, the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s original march on Washington during the civil rights movement.

"We're going back to Washington," Sharpton told those who had gathered for Floyd's memorial service at North Central University in Minneapolis. Sharpton was specifically speaking to Martin Luther King III, who was in attendance of the memorial.

To the younger King, Sharpton said, "That's where your father stood in the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial and said 'I have a dream.' Well, we're going back this August 28 to restore and recommit that dream, to stand up."

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"This is the era to deal with policing and criminal justice," Sharpton added.

In his fiery speech, Sharpton repeatedly emphasized that time was up for the current systems in the country that propagate racism and discrimination against black Americans.

Sharpton’s eulogy was centered around time, with the reverend at the beginning of his speech evoking a verse from Ecclesiastes 3 that reads: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Floyd, Sharpton said, didn’t die from a pre-existing medical condition, but rather a “common American justice system malfunction.”

Floyd was killed last Monday in Minneapolis after being arrested. Footage of his killing showed former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, even after Floyd's body went limp and unresponsive.

Multiple times before losing consciousness, Floyd said that he couldn’t breathe.  

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Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Floyd’s death were quickly fired from the police department.

Chauvin was arrested Friday of last week. The Hennepin County attorney’s office charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Two medical examiners both determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonOfficers in George Floyd's death appear in court, motion for separate trials Ex-Minneapolis officer involved in Floyd death asks judge to dismiss murder charge Over 50 current, former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana MORE (D), who was given control of the case by Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzGOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota Presidential race tightens in Minnesota as Trump plows resources into state National Guard activated in Minneapolis after homicide suspect's reported suicide MORE (D), said that Chauvin’s murder charge had been elevated to second-degree murder. The three other officers were taken into custody and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks, because ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to be was because you kept your knee on our neck,” Sharpton said.

He continued: “What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country. ... It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say ‘get your knee off our necks.’”

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests and civil unrest that have continued into this week. Many of the protests escalated into looting, rioting and property damage, prompting nearly two dozen states and Washington, D.C., to mobilize their national guards.  

Of the protesters, Sharpton said that the “overwhelming majority” that have protested weren’t breaking windows, but “trying to break barriers.”

“We don’t have a problem denouncing violence ... we don’t have a problem denouncing looting ... but it seems like some in the criminal justice system have a problem looking at a tape, and knowing there’s probable cause,” he said.

Sharpton asserted that the fact protests have been held around the world in Floyd’s name signals that “it’s a different time.” 

“America, this is the time of dealing with accountability in the criminal justice system,” Sharpton said.

The reverend also had a message for Washington lawmakers, warning them that there is no longer time for their excuses and “empty words and empty promises.”

Updated at 5:24 p.m.