Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson call for murder charges against Minneapolis police officers

The Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson each traveled to Minneapolis on Thursday, where they called for four city police officers to face murder charges in the death of George Floyd, a black man who died this week while in police custody.

Sharpton noted that the four officers linked to the incident – including one who was shown on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck – haven’t been arrested or charged with any crime, although they were fired Tuesday.

Sharpton, Jackson and critics claim Floyd died as a result of excessive force by the police, for which the officers should face legal consequences.

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“In order to get an arrest, all you need is probable cause,” Sharpton said near the spot where police apprehended Floyd on Monday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“Then a grand jury decides if there is an indictment,” he added. “You don’t need anything more than you have now to arrest those folks. … You have a deceased person. … You have a tape showing how he [became] deceased. … They should tell those four police what they tell all the people in the 'hood: ‘Tell it to the judge.’”

"They should tell those four police what they tell all the people in the 'hood: ‘Tell it to the judge.’”

— The Rev. Al Sharpton
The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks in New York City, May 2, 2015. (Associated Press)

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks in New York City, May 2, 2015. (Associated Press)

Sharpton was accompanied by Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, a Staten Island, N.Y. man who died in July 2014 after being held in a chokehold by a New York City police officer who was fired but not indicted in the case.

In a separate appearance in Minneapolis, the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for protesters to keep up their demonstrations in Minneapolis and other cities on behalf of Floyd.

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“The protests must continue, but around the country,” Jackson, 78, said, according to USA Today. “Protest until something happens.”

Jackson asserted that the police officers were receiving different treatment than a black person would receive for the same alleged offense.

“If Floyd had done this to a white person, he would be in jail today with bond too high to reach,” he said.

“If Floyd had done this to a white person, he would be in jail today with bond too high to reach.”

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson
The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses media in New Orleans, Dec. 1, 2018. (Associated Press)

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses media in New Orleans, Dec. 1, 2018. (Associated Press)

He argued that justice has frequently been elusive in cases where black people have died under questionable circumstances.

“Person shot 41 times in New York, they walk free,” Jackson said. “It’s Trayvon Martin, they walk free. Ferguson, Missouri, they walk free. It comes after a long trend of abuse, people get tired of it, and they’re fighting back here.”

The Minneapolis Police Department has identified the four fired officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng. Chauvin was identified as the officer shown with his knee on Floyd’s neck.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey asked Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file criminal charges against Chauvin but that hadn’t happened as of early Friday.

“I’ve wrestled, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, with one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey said Wednesday, according to FOX 9 of Minneapolis. “If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. I cannot come up with a good answer to that question.”

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On Thursday, Freeman said the four officers were not cooperating with the state’s investigation into Floyd’s death, and were invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, FOX 9 reported.

Meanwhile, President Trump requested a federal investigation into the case.

“I feel very, very badly,” Trump said about the video of the moments before George Floyd’s death. “That’s a very shocking sight.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.