Reverend Al Sharpton has called for an end to the use of stop and frisks in the UK, accusing police of disproportionately targeting people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The American civil rights campaigner said he fears that unless urgent reform is instituted in British policing, Britain will see its own version of the George Floyd case.
Mr. Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020 in a murder that sparked widespread protests across America and the world.
Speaking during Sky News’ Beth Rigby interviews, Reverend Sharpton asked: ‘How do you explain the disproportionate number of black citizens or people of color being stopped and searched by white people in this country?
“How do you explain in COVID, when everyone is locked down, people of color, and black people in particular, are arrested and processed and arrested, more than white people?”
Reverend Sharpton, who has campaigned in the United States for decades, added: “There is a systemic problem, and I think the studies – the data – have shown that. That is why it is essential that we let’s get ahead, and deal with it, before you end up with a George Floyd.
“Stop and search is inherently set up in a situation, which we found – when they called it in America ‘stop-and-frisk’ – that it was done disproportionately in areas where there were blacks and browns. When you have a disproportionate policing strategy, you have to eliminate that strategy.”
The Reverend also highlighted the issue of police brutality in his home country, citing the recent case of Nichols tire – a black man who was beaten by five black police officers in the city of Memphis, Tennessee and died three days later.
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“What troubled me about the murder of this young man was that Tyr was beaten to death by five black policemen minutes from where Martin Luther King was killed,” he said. declared.
“Martin Luther King was in Memphis fighting for the city’s black workers. I could argue that they might not even have been on an elite team if it wasn’t for not had Dr. King.
“So we’re fighting the systems as well as the race, because I don’t believe those black cops would beat a white kid like that, because they knew the punishment.”
“The police are not monitored”
However, Sharpton did not see the situation in America as hopeless, saying he wanted US policing reforms at the federal level, with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“I think there’s the larger issue of the police going unsupervised,” he said. “I think white and black policing has been infested with the same kind of power trips that ‘I don’t have to be held accountable’.
“That’s why the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act makes them accountable. Why does it make them accountable? Because it takes away qualified immunity.”
Qualified immunity in the United States protects police officers and other civil prosecution officials, except in very rare circumstances.
“If a policeman knows he can lose his property, his house, his car, for his actions, his family would say, ‘wait a minute, you have to be more careful and follow the letter of the law.’ has no skin in the game,” Reverend Sharpton said.
The Reverend believes there is now enough pressure on Senate officials to pass the law, which did not pass in 2021.
“Imagine if Dr. King had given up”
When asked if he thinks Tire Nichols’ death could be a catalyst for change in America, he said: “I believe Tyr’s death can be that. I believe the same with George Floyd, where we got the Executive Order I still have hope, no matter how bad it looks.
“You must remember when the historic March on Washington happened in 1963, when Martin Luther King gave his ‘I have a dream’ speech, two months later they bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama – 16th Street Baptist Church – and killed four little girls.
“There will always be a reason to give up. But you have to keep going. [Nelson] Mandela had given up – 27 years in prison – but South Africa ended up being a one-man, one-vote democracy.
“Suppose if Dr. King had given up, we would never have had a Barack Obama or Kamala Harris. So whenever I get discouraged, I think of the people who face greater odds than us and I wonder. Say if they could hold on, we can hold on.
“Victory is certain. I don’t know the date or time, but I know we will win and I won’t stop fighting.”
When asked if lasting change could happen in his lifetime, Reverend Al Sharpton replied: “In my lifetime, hopefully. But if not, my children they will say in their lifetime, or my grandchildren of in their lifetime, that we won. And my dad or grandpa was part of the win. They won’t say he quit and quit.