Rev. Al Sharpton, who was in St. Louis, Mo. Tuesday and has spoken at rallies for all three men killed by police officers, thanked the peaceful demonstrators throughout the country but condemned the violence seen in Ferguson and other cities.
“Anyone that engages in violence is not on the team of justice and not on the team of Michael Brown,” he said. “You cannot confuse civil disobedience with violence.”
Demonstrators in New York City blocked access to bridges and tunnels Monday and Tuesday night. Ten people were arrested early Wednesday morning.
The families of the victims, who declined to speak, shed tears as Sharpton described their loss.
“They share each other’s pain and understand what we don’t understand,” he said. “Not only do they share the pain of being victims of police conduct but this will be their first Thanksgiving with an empty table.”
During the meeting, Kimberly Ballinger — Gurley’s girlfriend — broke down in tears and embraced Lesley McSpadden — Brown’s mother.
Michael Brown Sr. fought back tears as he held Sharpton’s hand during a prayer. He wore a tie with his dead son’s face on it.
While he did not personally attack Officer Darren Wilson, the officer cleared Monday of any wrongdoing in the shooting, Sharpton criticized his grand jury testimony and said investigators should have asked him tougher questions.
Brown’s parents said the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson “was like getting shot,” their lawyer Benjamin Crump said.
Crump said Brown’s parents have seen parts of Wilson’s interview.
“It was very hurtful to Michael Brown’s parents when he said he had a clear conscious after killing their unarmed teenage son,” Crump added.
Brown's parents will continue to seek justice and hope to see legislation requiring police officers to wear body cameras, he added.