Al Sharpton on Walter Scott shooting: 'It's not about black and white, it's about right and wrong'

Published: Apr. 10, 2015 at 11:23 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2015 at 6:36 PM EDT
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Rev. Al Sharpton speaking at Charity Baptist Church. (Source: WCSC)
Rev. Al Sharpton speaking at Charity Baptist Church. (Source: WCSC)
Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)
Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Civil Rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton said the fatal officer-involved shooting of Walter Scott was "not about black and white, it's about right and wrong."

The National Action Network president spoke on Sunday morning at the Charity Baptist Church in North Charleston where he commended North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers, who were both in attendance, for the arrest of former police officer Michael Slager in Scott's death.

"What this mayor did is what we've asked mayors to do all over the country. Not 'do us a favor,' just enforce the law," Sharpton said.

Sharpton called for more black officers in the North Charleston Police Department and told church members to not let presidential candidates come to South Carolina without talking about police accountability. 

"I didn't come to start trouble, I came to stop trouble," Sharpton said.

Sharpton told the congregation that he was not anti-police, but "anti-police brutality" and referenced not only the video which captured Scott's shooting but other videos involving police that have made national news.

"There's been videos in other places, and they would not arrest them and charge them," Sharpton said."At least in the deep south, now you've got a bar that you've got to reach all over this quit playing with the law. Either enforce the law or get out of law enforcement."

Sharpton also addressed the National Bar Association's announcement that they were seeking the immediate arrest of North Charleston police officer Clarence Habersham who responded to the shooting on the cause that he "left material facts out of his report to police."  

"A man writing false reports, handing it to his superiors should not expect his superiors to cover up for him including a black cop," Sharpton said."If they're lying, you go where the liars go. It's not about white cop, black cop. It's not about black and white, it's about right and wrong."

According to Sharpton, he was with the family of Michael Brown and Eric Garner when he learned about Walter Scott's shooting. 

"One of the reasons we have not solved the problem of policing and crime is because many don't believe we can," Sharpton said.

Sharpton also spoke about the bill Sen. Marlon Kimpson is working on, mandating all South Carolina police officers wear body cameras.

"If you can make a state law on cameras on police, then the NAACP and others can nationally say, 'If they do it in South Carolina, what's the excuse in Illinois and New York?'" Sharpton said. 

Church members said the attendance at Sunday service is around 250 people, but today an estimated 500 showed up. 

In a release, Sharpton said he was "invited to preach in North Charleston, SC, on Sunday and to help lead a healing prayer vigil that afternoon by local clergy who have worked on this case from the beginning."

At 3 p.m., Sharpton will be leading the prayer vigil at the site of Scott's death at Remount and Craig Roads in North Charleston.

Officials have said that the National President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Charles Stelle, Jr., will also be in attendance at the church service and vigil.

A press release from the SCLC stated "We commend city officials in North Charleston for their rapid response in charging the police officer involved. We will reach out to the Mayor of North Charleston and Police Department to offer our help in providing 'non-violent conflict resolution training'."

Scott was shot multiple times in the back by Slager following what began as a traffic stop for a broken brake light the morning of April 4. 

The shooting was captured on video by a witness. The video contradicted Slager's initial claims that he fired on Scott because he feared for his life.

Slager has since been arrested and charged with murder, and fired from the department. 

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