The Rev. Al Sharpton fended off criticism over his use of a private jet to travel to Minnesota for the Derek Chauvin verdict and for the funeral of Daunte Wright – during his eulogy of the Black Minnesota man killed by a police officer who allegedly confused her handgun for a Taser.
“We ain’t in the back of the bus no more,” Sharpton said, calling back to Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience in 1955. “I’d have taken an Apollo rocket if it was available.”
Wright, a 20-year-old father, was killed in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, when he tried to resist officers during a traffic stop on April 11.
Kim Potter, the officer seen in bodycam video during the incident, resigned from the police force and was later charged with second-degree manslaughter after shooting Wright. Authorities said she had meant to deploy her Taser but fired the gun instead.
AL SHARPTON TOUTS PRIVATE JET BEFORE JOINING GEORGE FLOYD’S FAMILY AS CHAUVIN TRIAL CONCLUDES
Sharpton traveled to Minneapolis earlier this week for the end of Chauvin’s murder trial in the death of George Floyd, another Black man who died in police custody after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes – despite protests from bystanders and the victim himself, who said he couldn’t breathe, called out for his mom and predicted his own death at the hands of arresting officers.
A jury found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and of manslaughter.
On his way to the Midwest Monday, Sharpton tweeted a video of himself sauntering up to a private jet, inviting blowback over what critics called tone-deaf and out of touch.
“Headed to Minneapolis to stand with the Floyd family as closing arguments are set to be made today,” he captioned the video, which showed him walking toward the waiting plane in an overcoat and carrying paperwork.
When Sharpton spoke at Wright’s funeral, he took a few moments out of the eulogy to defend his tweet.
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“When (civil rights attorney) Ben Crump called me the other night and told me that they were winding the trial down…I had certain obligations and I had to fulfill them in New York, couldn’t get here the way I wanted,” he said. “I call one of my wealthy Black friends. He said, I’ll send you my plane. Some of them got on Twitter talking about why I’m on a private plane. Because I’m that kind of guy. When George Floyd was killed, Tyler Perry sent his private plane to bring the Floyd family to Minneapolis. Robert Smith sent a private plane to bring Eric Garner’s mother and me and to film in Minneapolis.”
Garner died in 2014 after an encounter with police in which he was filmed saying, “I can’t breathe.” His mother, Gwen Carr, attended the funeral.
Valerie Castile was also there. Her son, Philando Castile, was shot to death during a suburban Minneapolis traffic stop in 2016 after he told an officer that he had a legally licensed firearm in his car.