Sharpton: I Will Attend Akai Gurley Funeral But Won't Speak -- Unity For Justice Must Be Paramount

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Rev. Al Sharpton

It has come to my attention that due to some interaction in the family around the services for Akai Gurley tonight and tomorrow, that services may be altered.

I encourage the family and community to unite for justice and deal with other matters at another time.

I was scheduled to speak tonight in Washington, D.C. at the private memorial service for Marion Barry and to be in Staten Island tomorrow afternoon. I altered my schedule based on Kimberly Ballinger’s request, the domestic partner of Akai Gurley, to come tonight to Brooklyn; because I think that we need a fair and open investigation. I also do not want to get in the middle of any confusion or division.

The mother of Eric Garner, Gwen Carr, and I will pay our respects tonight to the entire family and community by viewing the body but I will not engage in any of the program.

I hope that leaders and community members rally around the domestic partner, mother and everyone in whatever way they decide to proceed. Tomorrow Attorney Benjamin Crump on behalf of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s families will join us to announce a week count down to the national march in Washington D.C., at the site of Eric Garner's death in Staten Island at 1:30 p.m.

We are glad that Kimberly Ballinger will join those families and the Garner’s at the march next week.

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network


The Reverend Al Sharpton subsequently issued the following statement later this evening explaining why he ultimately would not attend the funeral:

“After receiving information of an open dispute amongst the family of Akai Gurley, Rev. Al Sharpton and Mrs. Gwen Carr have decided that they will not attend the services tonight or tomorrow and they hope that the families work out whatever their disputes are between the domestic partner, mother and aunt, and will pursue justice as a united front.

We have responded, as the media covered the last three weeks, to the domestic partner and sister of Akai Gurley wanting our involvement. We responded to the domestic partner and mother of his child as next of kin, and we mean no disrespect with others.

Rev. Sharpton, who is overwhelmed with his work seeking justice in police misconduct cases involving Michael Brown and Eric Garner, was scheduled to speak at the private memorial service of former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry and cancelled because of the request of these young ladies. NAN did not mean to interfere with any family dispute and remains available to assist once and if they work their situation out.”


Editor's Note: The District Attorney in Brooklyn Ken Thompson has announced that a grand jury will weigh evidence into the shooting of Akai Gurley

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