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Sharpton responds to Tim Scott: 'The practice of America was built on racism'

Sharpton responds to Tim Scott: 'The practice of America was built on racism'
© Bonnie Cash

The Rev. Al Sharpton on Monday argued that "the practice of America was built on racism," while addressing GOP Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottUpdating the aging infrastructure in Historically Black Colleges and Universities McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' The instructive popularity of Biden's 'New Deal' for the middle class MORE's (S.C.) claim last week that "America is not a racist country."

Sharpton was speaking at the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot by deputies in Elizabeth City, N.C., last month.

“I watched, the other night, the president make his first address to the joint session of Congress," Sharpton said. "And then I watched the rebuttal by the senator from South Carolina. Seems something awkward to me, where a white president talked about white supremacy and a Black senator said ... America is not racist. Seemed a little strange to me."

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“Now, everybody in America is not racist. But are you talking about whether the practice of America's racist, or the people, cause the practice of America was built on racism,” the civil right activist added. 

Brown was shot while driving away from Pasquotank County Sheriff's deputies who were serving an arrest warrant for felony drug charges, according to police. His fatal shooting by police happened shortly after the trial of a Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering another Black man, George Floyd, last year. Floyd's death prompted widespread protests over police violence and racism.

Sharpton gave an impassioned address at Brown's funeral, joining in the calls for the body camera footage of the shooting to be publicly released. He attacked the reasoning that has been given by the Pasquotank County Sheriff's office and a North Carolina judge who said publicly releasing the footage would endanger a fair trial.

“I know a con game when I see it. Release the whole tape, and let the folks see what happened to Andrew Brown,” Sharpton said. “How is a tape gonna prejudice a grand jury, when a grand jury got to see the tape in order to decide whether or not they will prosecute? Don't talk to us like we're stupid!”

“If there’s nothing on the tape, there won't be nothing on it in 45 days and if there’s something on it in 45 days, there's something on it today,” Sharpton continued. “You don't need time to get a tape out, cut it out.”

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Sharpton acknowledged Brown's criminal history, but stated the fatal shooting was done "unjustifiably and illegally."

"And when you break the law, you've got to be held accountable to the law. Andrew Brown Jr., if he did wrong, bring him to court. But you don't have a right to bring him to his funeral," Sharpton said. 

Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump also spoke at the funeral, repeating his own calls for the body camera footage to be released.

"Andrew cannot make the plea for transparency. It is up to us to make the plea for transparency and demand that these videotapes be released," Crump said. "We know that it was a reckless, unjustifiable shooting."