Sharpton eulogizes George Floyd, demands America ‘get your knee off our necks’

The minister also focused his indignation on President Donald Trump and told people not to use the Bible as a prop.

Rev. Al Shaprton (Credit: NBC/screenshot)

The Rev. Al Sharpton eulogized George Floyd at his memorial and demanded that America “get your knee off our necks.”

Benjamin Crump opened the service at North Central University sanctuary on Wednesday to remind those gathered that the 46-year-old did not die from the coronavirus. Floyd’s body lay in a gold casket as artwork depicting saying “I can breathe now” was in the background. The memorial was held amid social distancing and Sharpton continued that mantra as he took to the podium.

“George Floyd should not be among the deceased,” Sharpton began. “He did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction.”

READ MORE: Ahmaud Arbery’s mother to attend George Floyd’s funeral service

The minister and civil rights icon then focused his indignation on President Donald Trump. He alluded to Trump staging a photo op Monday as protesters descended into Washington to demand justice for Floyd.

“We cannot use Bibles as a prop,” he said. “And for those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.”

Floyd was killed on Memorial Day after now-former police officer Derek Chauvin placed a knee on his neck after he was suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. He has since been charged with second-degree murder and the other officers are now in custody. Sharpton described his death as just another example of what happens to many African Americans in the nation.

“What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country in education, in health services and in every area of American life. It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks,'” Sharpton said.

He also brought up Trump demanding that former President Barack Obama show his birth certificate as another indignity.

“Obama rises up and educates himself and becomes President of the United States. And you keep your knee on his neck asking for a birth certificate. We can do or be whatever we want to be, just get your knee off our necks,” he said.

READ MORE: George Floyd’s smiling daughter, 6, says ‘daddy changed the world’

Sharpton also drew parallels to Eric Garner who died in 2014 after an altercation with New York police. Garner, much like Floyd, said he couldn’t breathe as he was placed in an illegal chokehold. The officers involved in his death were not charged.

“As soon as I talked to the family and got the details and heard that among George’s last words was ‘I can’t breathe,’ with a knee on his neck, I immediately thought about Eric Garner,” he said.

Sharpton echoed the words of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter Gianna who said he changed the world and brought the ceremony to a close by asking guests to take a moment of silence. It lasted for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time that Chauvin had his knee placed on Floyd’s neck.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, T.I., Ludacris, Regina Hall, Tyler Perry, and Martin Luther King III were just some of the invited guests paying their respects. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey were also in attendance.

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