(CNSNews.com) – “Inequities” in the criminal justice system go back to the time of Jesus, the Rev. Al Sharpton said in discussing the Trayvon Martin case.
“We believe in Jesus, they crucified him and never had a charge,” the Rev. Sharpton told a gathering of his National Action Network in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. “They never charged, there wasn’t no crime on his indictment. So we’ve got to deal with the inequities of the criminal justice system. The fact that we (black people) are overly-incarcerated, the fact that we go to court and are treated differently, and the fact that when we’re victimized there is not the same response. That’s what Trayvon was about.”
Sharpton and his National Action Network have led a number of protest rallies in recent weeks, demanding the arrest of neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who told police he shot 17-year-old Trayvon in self-defense.
Sharpton, who hosts both a radio and TV show on MSNBC, said Martin’s attorney Benjamin Crump called him last month, requesting publicity about Trayvon’s death:
“The reason they called us was to try and make it a big case,” Sharpton said. “I put Crump on the radio show that day and on the television show that night, and we began building.
“Then everybody say, ‘Well they ain’t gonna get nothing done no how.’ And it kept going and rallying and people got involved -- culminating, as you know, yesterday (when Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder).
“Now they are going to attack those of us involved, ‘cause that’s what they always do. Part of the job of activists is, you want them to attack you and not the victim and the family. You want to absolve it to you. So I’m ready for all of that.”
As for criticism that his tactics are racially polarizing, Sharpton said, “If nobody is upset with you, you are not doing much of anything.”
Sharpton said he doesn’t know what happened on Feb. 26, the night Zimmerman shot Martin. All he knows is that Trayvon was “an unarmed young man that committed no crime,” while Zimmerman was “an armed man that was not even a law enforcement officer or a registered watchman.”
“He should have been arrested and have to stand trial. That’s all we say,” Sharpton added.
Sharpton said he will continue to fight Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the self-defense statute that could be used in Zimmerman’s defense.
“The reason this (Zimmerman) case is serious is the ramifications of this will determine Stand Your Ground in 21 states,” Sharpton explained. He said most of the cases the National Action Network takes have “broad” civil rights implications.