All the major Democratic contenders for New York City mayor and comptroller spent Saturday morning at the activist Al Sharpton's Harlem headquarters, where he rallied followers over a Bronx grand jury's decision not to indict a cop who last year shot an unarmed black teen.
Sharpton assailed what he said is a string of recent setbacks for black people -- the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year invalidating parts of the Voting Rights Act, the George Zimmerman acquittal in Trayvon Martin's shooting in Florida, and the grand jury's "jaded decision" in the case of slain teen Ramarley Graham.
"We still have to fight!" said Sharpton, who is leading a delegation -- including many of the candidates -- to Washington, D.C., later this month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington.
Sharpton has not yet made an endorsement in either the mayoral or the comptroller's race. The candidates are seeking it, and his nod carries considerable sway among many black New Yorkers.
The candidates -- including the mayoral hopefuls, Democrats Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson, Anthony Weiner, and Independence candidate Adolfo Carrión Jr., and the comptroller candidates, Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer -- nodded and applauded as Sharpton spoke.
On the podium with the politicians was Graham's mother, Constance Malcolm, who told the audience after the candidates had all left that she feels deeply betrayed by government -- and strives to prevent future shootings.
"What do I have left to do? I have nothing left to do," she said. "I don't want another mother to feel the pain that I'm feeling."
Her son was chased in February 2012 into his family's house by an officer who said he thought Graham, 18, was armed. A previous grand jury had indicted the cop.
That decision was tossed after a ruling that a prosecutor gave the grand jury wrong instructions. The second grand jury did not return an indictment. The U.S. Justice Department said last week that federal prosecutors would examine the case.
The candidates Saturday urged the audience to push for change.
"You can't complain if you don't vote," Spitzer told the crowd.
Quinn added: "Nobody's going to give us anything that we don't demand in this country!"