National Action Network (NAN) President Rev. Al Sharpton (pictured) visited the city of Ferguson, Mo., Tuesday, urging peace among demonstrators angered at the shooting death of Black unarmed teenager Michael “Mike” Brown at the hands of police. On Thursday, Rev. Sharpton spoke with St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar, demanding restraint from officers in Ferguson and also demanding a thorough Justice Department investigation.
The city of Ferguson erupted into riots and looting late Sunday night and continued in to the next day.
As reported by several witnesses in the city via social media, the looting and riots have not occurred since Monday evening but that hasn’t stopped authorities from rolling out heavy artillery. Armed in gear as if Ferguson was a full-out war zone, the police drove armored tanks in the streets and hit peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Rev. Sharpton spoke with Chief Belmar this morning, ahead of a planned meeting with NAN staff and local leaders with police in the county, stating he’ll return to the region once talks have commenced. Rev. Sharpton visited with the family of Brown and held a press conference and rally that called for justice in the case. Further, NAN will help provide funds to the Brown family to conduct a proper funeral for the 18-year-old.
From Rev. Sharpton:
I told Chief Belmar that I was outraged by what I have seen on TV since leaving Ferguson and that we must not have excessive force to deal with legitimate protest of excessive force. We want to solve the problem, not create new ones. Even if we disagree, this climate is not good for anyone and is dangerous for everyone.
According to NAN, the organization’s Rev. De-Ves Toon of the National Field Department and other colleagues will revisit the area with Rev. Sharpton after the planned talks conclude.