The Rev. Al Sharpton, the famed civil rights leader, stood outside the Hennepin County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon alongside the family of George Floyd to publicly pray for justice.
Sharpton, joined by Floyd family attorney Ben Crump as well as former New York Gov. David Paterson, prayed for the conviction of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the ongoing murder trial.
"We wept through many cases, from Rodney King to Eric Garner to Michael Brown," Sharpton said, flanked by Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, as well as several of Floyd's siblings. "Some never reached the courthouse. But here we are now in the shadows of the courthouse, praying for justice. Give this family strength that they can bear the recurring sight of seeing their brother (have) a knee on his neck — a knee that represents the perpetual knee on the neck of all Black Americans and brown Americans. That we will be able to use this trial and this occasion to let America know, 'Get your knee off our neck.' God made our knee to bend the leg, not to bend our life."
Should Chauvin get convicted, Sharpton also instructed supporters not to gloat — that it ought to be a moment of unity for "one human race."
Crump, the family attorney, noted that the emotions and trauma that the Floyd family has experienced during this trial is mirrored by the emotions and trauma experienced by members of the public who have been closely watching the trial, which has featured graphic videos of Floyd's death.
"Unfortunately the road to justice has to go through them seeing their loved one, over and over again, being literally tortured to death," Crump said. "For many of us George Floyd represents a cause, a case, a hashtag. But for his siblings and his children, George Floyd is their blood."
Sharpton eulogized Floyd at his June memorial services in Minneapolis and in Houston, and he has continuously prayed with the family since then, often by phone. But after the retraumatizing first week of the trial, Sharpton said he wanted to be able to join the family in person. The family requested that they pray in public.
"Maybe we'd set a tone of healing, because so many people are suffering anxiety, watching this every day," Sharpton said. "We pray for not only the family strength. We pray for people around the country that are suffering with them."
Reid Forgrave • 612-673-4647