HARLEM, N.Y. — Addressing a crowd of more than 150 Saturday morning, the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke against "over-policing of low-level alleged crimes" in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
The shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teenager, one week ago has stoked days of racial unrest in that largely black suburb and questions about the militaristic tactics police have used to quell rioting and looting there.
Sharpton talked about Brown's shooting, as well as the death of Eric Garner, who died last month after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.
"Eric Garner or Michael Brown could have been us," Sharpton told supporters who packed into rows of red chairs at the National Action Network (NAN) headquarters.
Police released documents Friday that Brown was a suspect in a strong-armed robbery of cigars from a convenience store. Police suspected Garner, 43, of selling untaxed cigarettes.
NAN President Sharpton criticized how the release of that robbery information was handled, since police said that the officer who shot Brown didn't know he was a robbery suspect.
Garner's mother Gwen Carr and his wife, Esaw Garner, also spoke at the event. Carr stressed the importance of peaceful protests, asking the audience to focus on "justice" instead of violence.
Both women urged people to turn out for a rally in honor of Garner that will take place in Staten Island next Saturday.
"It's not only for my son," Carr said. "It's for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo. It could be for your son next, your husband next."
Sharpton also emphasized that protests against injustice should be done in a responsible way.
"There is a difference between having a fit and having a movement," he said.
Toney Lee and his wife, Jacqueline Johnson-Lee, were among Sharpton's supporters in attendance.
"Young black men are under attack," said Toney Lee, CEO of the music company Total Success Records International. "This happens over and over and over again."
He said that change is needed, and advocated for people come together to address the issues.
"We have to keep together and stand strong," he said.
Kirsten John Foy, the northeastern regional director of NAN, said the planned Staten Island rally for next Saturday would apply pressure for an indictment for those involved in Garner's death.
The NAN also plans to hold a rally on Sunday in Ferguson, MO. Sharpton and Brown's family are slated to be in attendance.