Veteran civil rights leader Al Shapton has condemned Donald Trump’s use of a bible in a photoshoot near the White House, and said that George Floyd’s death must not be treated in the same way.
“I saw somebody standing in front of a church, the other day, which had been boarded up as a result of violence,” he said, speaking at the funeral of Mr Floyd, a black man killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“Held the Bible in his hand. I’ve been preaching since I was a little boy and never seen anyone hold a bible like that, but I’ll leave that alone.
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“But since he held the Bible, if he’s watching us today, I would like him to open that Bible. And I’d like him to read Ecclesiastes 3. ‘To every season, there’s a time, and a purpose.’”
“And I think that it is our job to let the world know when we see what is going on in the streets of this country – and in Europe, around the world – that you need to know what time it is.
“First of all, we cannot use bibles as a prop. And for those that have agendas that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.”
Mr Trump’s photoshoot with a bible at St John’s Church in Washington DC took place on Monday, with police in riot gear deployed to clear Lafayette Square next to the White House so he could walk across it and pose for photographers with a bible, which he did not open.
Peaceful protesters were dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets, an action the American Civil Liberties Union says violated their constitutional rights.
Mr Sharpton is not the only public figure to have directed Mr Trump towards Ecclesiastes. Speaking the day after the president’s appearance at the church, Nancy Pelosi told a press conference that thinking of an appropriate Bible verse for the moment, her thoughts had turned to the same book, and to the theme of time.
“‘There is an appointed time for everything,’ Ecclesiastes says in 3: 1-8. ‘There is a time for every event under heaven’ … Let’s focus on a time to heal.”