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NEW YORK (AP) — The killings of five police officers during a protest march in Dallas decrying the shooting deaths of two men in Louisiana and Minnesota was a “horrific, despicable” act, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday, but also argued that police officers need to be prosecuted when they are involved in the deaths of innocent people.
“We are not anti-police, we are not trying to kill police,” the civil rights activist told a crowd of over 200 during his weekly address Saturday at the National Action Network’s “House of Justice,” in Harlem.
“We’re trying to stop the killing of us by those that are bad police,” he added.
Sharpton, who has protested against alleged police misconduct for decades, said the killings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, as well as the Dallas shootings, have put the nation at a “tipping point.”
“The question is,” he said, “is it a tipping point for the country to move forward or will it be a tipping point for the country to go backwards?”
He was joined at the morning rally by Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in a police chokehold in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Sharpton said there would be a protest march next weekend to mark the second anniversary of Garner’s death.
“It’s been two years and that was on video and we’ve not seen justice,” Sharpton said. “So that’s why people are questioning what’s going on now.”
Garner, a 43-year-old black father of six, died during the encounter on July 17, 2014. Video of the arrest that has been widely circulated online shows the asthmatic, overweight man yelling, “I can’t breathe!” after a white officer wraps his arm around Garner’s neck and he’s wrestled to the ground by police. No one has been charged criminally.
Carr also decried the killings in Dallas.
“Them shooting those innocent police officers, why kill the innocents?” she said. “They’re not the one who killed your loved one … we don’t go about killing … we are all about peace.”
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