There is so much mourning going on right now when it comes to black men being gunned down by police, and Akai Gurley’s death is one of the more recent occurrences that has people talking and very upset.
On November 20, Gurley was walking down the steps of a dark stairwell in the Louis Pink houses in Brooklyn (East New York) with his girlfriend when rookie officer Peter Liang fired his gun in the stairwell, claiming it was an accident. The bullet hit Gurley in the chest, killing him. Liang was on patrol at the housing project, and after shooting Gurley, he reportedly sent a text to his union representative before actually calling for help.
Gurley’s wake was on Friday and he was laid to rest on Saturday, and one guest that the family did not want present for these events was Rev. Al Sharpton. Although the National Action Network reportedly sent out press releases saying that he would be providing the eulogy at Gurley’s funeral, Gurley’s aunt, Hertencia Petersen, claims that he didn’t consult the family before doing this, and didn’t offer any money to help pay for the arrangements.
“It’s been a nightmare, ” she told the New York Post. “He just wants to take credit for this when he’s never even contacted my sister [Gurley’s mother]. Who made you the spokesperson of our family? We just want to bury our nephew with dignity and respect.”
And she claims that press releases from the NAN had conflicting information. She says that they claimed that Rev. Sharpton would eulogize the 28-year-old during the funeral, which would take place on last Friday, but Gurley was actually scheduled to be buried on Saturday.
“How can you do a eulogy for someone you don’t even know? It’s heartbreaking.
It’s about control and power.”
In the end, Rev. Sharpton respected the wishes of the family, but said he backed out of speaking because of “confusion and division” in the Gurley family. He claims that Gurley’s girlfriend, and the mother of his child, Kimberley Ballinger, reached out to him and that he just wanted to help get justice for the young man and his family. That’s it.
But Petersen, who, with the help of her health-care union, put together the money in order for her sister (Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer) and other relatives to make it to NYC to bury their loved one, said”confusion” only comes when Rev. Sharpton pops up. He take the attention away from the men who lost their lives by placing himself front and center.
Late last week, Gurley’s mother, Sylvia Palmer, spoke out for the first time about losing her son. He planned to drive down to Florida to visit her for Thanksgiving and both she and Gurley were excited:
“He loved life more than life itself and, most importantly, he loved his mother. The night my son was murdered, he went out to get his hair braided to come home and surprise me for Thanksgiving. Now, there will never be another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, another Valentine’s, birthday, social gatherings.”