On Monday, Reverend Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy at the funeral for Andrew Brown Jr., a black man who died last week following an encounter with law enforcement. Sharpton used the opportunity to speak out against Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) message in the GOP rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s first address to Congress.
In his response to Biden’s speech, Scott — the only black Republican senator — made the case that America is not a racist country, although he acknowledged that he has experienced racism on a personal level.
Scott said, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards [sic] to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”
Sharpton said he watched Scott’s rebuttal.
“Seems something awkward to me where a white president talked about white supremacy and a black senator said…America’s not racist,” Sharpton said. “Seem a little strange to me. Now, everybody in America is not racist. But are you talking about whether the practice of America is racist or the people? Because the practice of America was built on racism.”
Sharpton went on to describe America’s history, saying, “It was against the law for us to read and write. It was against the law for us to marry. It was against the law for us to name our children after us. We were brought here to work and never get paid. That’s how the country was built.”
He noted how in 1847, by law, black people were chattel slaves in Elizabeth City, adding, “What do you mean America is not racist? It was started off racism!”
Sharpton claimed that today black people are “unemployed twice as much as whites,” get worse education, worse health care, and can’t get business or bank loans. He said that there is still systemic racism in America.
Sharpton also spoke out against a judge’s recent decision to not release footage of the incident to the public for 30 to 45 days as the investigation into Brown’s death is ongoing.
“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 … Put it out!” Sharpton said. “Let the world see what it is to see. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what are you hiding?”
Attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Brown family, as well as the families of Daunte Wright and George Floyd, also spoke at the funeral. Crump said, “Because Andrew cannot make the plea for transparency, it is up to us make the plea for transparency and demand that these videotapes be released. … We already know what they’re going to show. Even Stevie Wonder, he can see what these videos are going to show.”
As The Daily Wire reported last week, North Carolina Judge Jeffrey Foster ordered that body camera footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s recent death involving law enforcement not be released until the state investigation is complete.
According to NPR, Foster said that giving the footage to the public could damage the reputation or safety of the deputies involved and impact the state’s investigation.
The outlet reported, “The judge said five body camera videos and one car camera video will be disclosed to Brown’s family and to their attorney. He ordered all faces and nametags of deputies blurred. Foster ordered the videos released to the public in no less than 30 and no more than 45 days. The state must notify the court when its investigation is complete.”
Last Wednesday, Andrew Brown, Jr., a 42-year-old black man, was reportedly killed following an encounter with law enforcement authorities who were serving search and arrest warrants due to the belief that he was trafficking in dangerous narcotics. Brown was allegedly shot during the encounter and died.
WUNC North Carolina Public Radio reported:
Recordings of scanner traffic compiled by broadcastify.com from the morning of the shooting include emergency personnel indicating that Brown was shot in the back. An eyewitness has said that deputies fired shots at Brown as he tried to drive away, and a car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and its back windshield shattered.
Attorneys for Brown’s family have said that the shooting was an “execution,” but Andrew Womble, district attorney for the First Prosecutorial District, has pushed back against those claims. He said that Brown’s car moved and “made contact with law enforcement” before deputies began to shoot.
“The next movement of the car is forward, it is in the direction of law enforcement, and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots,” the district attorney said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced last week that it will be investigating Brown’s death. The investigation was announced a day after Brown’s family and their attorneys were able to view body camera footage of the incident. An autopsy was also conducted that the family commissioned. The forensic pathologist, Dr. Brent Hall, reportedly found that Brown was shot four times in the right arm and one time in the back of the head.