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Rev. Al Sharpton: America, 'Get Your Knee Off Our Necks'

The civil rights icon says 'George Floyd’s story is the story of black folks'.

Rev. Al Sharpton denounced America’s racist system this week, announcing a new March on Washington in late August on the anniversary of the historic 1963 protest.

At the funeral for George Floyd, who was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, Sharpton spoke with conviction:

“George Floyd’s story is the story of black folks,” he said. “You kept your knee on our neck. We had creative skills, but we couldn’t get your knee off our neck. It’s time for us in George’s name to stand up and say, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’”

Sharpton called for a moment of silence for exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which was the amount of time Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck, even as Floyd begged and pleaded that he couldn’t breathe and called out for his mother. The video, along with recent outrage over the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, has sparked waves of global protests against police brutality.

“That’s how long he was laying there,” Sharpton said when the silence broke. “They had enough time. Now what will we do?”

The civil rights leader revealed that the families of Black people who have died at the hands of police officers will organize and lead a March on Washington to demand change.

“On August 28, the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, we’re going back to Washington … We’re going back this August 28 to restore and recommit that dream (of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) … We need to go back to Washington and stand up, black, white, Latino, Arab, in the shadows of Lincoln and tell them this is the time to stop this.”

Among the families will be those of Floyd, along with Eric Garner, who was also killed by a police officer while pleading that he could not breathe.

The March is ”going to be getting us ready to vote, not just for who’s going to be in the White House, but the statehouse and the city councils that allow these policing measures to go unquestioned,” Sharpton said.

Sharpton also criticized Donald Trump’s vapid and violent photo-op in front of a church in Washington, D.C. this week. Ahead of the photo-op, where Trump held the Bible upside down, he ordered peaceful protesters tear-gassed and aggressively dispersed.

“If he is watching, I’d like him to open that Bible and reach Ecclesiastes 3,” he said.

“‘To every season, there is a time.’ I’d like him to understand what time it is.”

“This is the time for dealing with accountability in the criminal justice system … There is a time and a season for everything,” he added. “Time is up. Time is out. This is the time.”