The Rev. Al Sharpton, in arguing the Memphis officers charged in the killing of Tyre Nichols are a "disgrace to our race," called for demonstrators in New York City and elsewhere Saturday to remain peaceful because police "want violence."
Sharpton, scheduled to deliver Nichols' eulogy at Wednesday's funeral in Memphis, spoke at a Saturday rally at the House of Justice in Harlem.
"We are going to continue protesting, but we're going to do it nonviolently as we always have done," Sharpton told the crowd. "Anybody that engages in violence are helping the police get away with what they did. Cause what they want to do is see violence so they can say, 'See, this is why the police had to do what they did. You see how out of control they are.' Don't play into the narrative that will end up helping them defend what they did."
"They're going to have some provocateurs that are going to try to get in our marches and then our protests," he added. "Sit them down. We are going to respect what this family has asked for and the strategy of the lawyers, and we are going forward and be as fervent, passionate as we can. We are not going to stop being angry, but we are not going into violence."
FORMER MEMPHIS COP CHARGED IN TYRE NICHOLS' DEATH ALLEGEDLY BEAT UP INMATE IN 2015
Shaprton said he was not "anti-police" or "anti-White."
His remarks came after three protesters were arrested in Times Square Friday night.
Argenis Rivera, 33, was charged with criminal mischief for allegedly jumping on the hood of a marked NYPD cruiser and kicking in the windshield.
Law enforcement sources told N.Y. Daily News that Rivera has prior arrests for assault and robbery. He was recently arrested for choking someone in October. According to the New York Post, the career criminal was nabbed for allegedly strangling a woman out pushing her 2-year-old child in a stroller in the Chelsea area of Manhattan.
As officers moved in to arrest Rivera, another protester, 25-year-old Candy Nicole, tried to push them back, allegedly punching one officer in the nose and a second in the head. Nicole was charged with assault, hate crime assault, and two counts of obstruction of governmental administration. Nicole has since been released on her own recognizance, the Post reported.
A third protester, 34-year-old Katherine Stone, was arrested for allegedly trying to graffiti the same police cruiser, according to Daily News. Stone was issued a desk appearance ticket for criminal mischief and possessing graffiti tools.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated across New York City over the weekend after officials on Friday released footage showing Tyre Nichols brutally beaten by five Memphis, Tenn., police officers, all of whom are also Black. Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx driver, died at the hospital three days after his arrest.
Memphis Police Director Cerelyn "CJ" Davis disbanded the city's so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a "cloud of dishonor."
The five officers involved - Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith - were all terminated on Jan. 18. They are all charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and other charges over Nichols' death.
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"To make it even more egregious, beat by five Black cops," Sharpton said Saturday, reacting to Nichols' death. "Did you think 'cause you was Black, we wouldn't say nothing? Did you think you would hide behind your Blackness. I want to say it loud and clear that we will fight Black cops, White cops, any color cops that commit crimes against us."
"They were trying to set up a cover up while they were committing their act," Sharpton alleged. "Your Blackness ain't gonna stop us from fighting you. These five cops not only disgrace their badges - they disgrace our race."
In comparing what happened to Nichols to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, Sharpton called on Congress to reintroduce the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to end qualified immunity for police officers.