The politics of racial grievance took center stage in 2015. Leading the way was an ad hoc nationwide group known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Menacing, confrontational and adept in social media, its activists are recruiting blacks, the younger the better, as foot soldiers for disruptive protests rivaling those organized by the master of the trade, Al Sharpton. Like Sharpton, the group claims to seek justice for blacks who have lost their lives at the hands of “racist” white police and vigilantes. And like Sharpton, their style involves character assassination, cause-and-effect distortion, and threats. In recent weeks, BLM activists – there are now nearly 30 chapters – have blocked urban thoroughfares, stormed college campus offices, and disrupted presidential candidate speeches. Woe unto those who fail to meet their demands.
Railroading innocent persons into prison, or extracting outsized settlements from them, is now a defining feature of civil rights activism. The possibility of such an outcome explains why Kendrick Johnson, a Valdosta, Georgia black teen who died in a freak accident at his high school nearly three years ago, has become a rallying symbol for “anti-racist” activists. Johnson isn’t as familiar as the late Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. But give it some time. From the start, the Johnson family and supporters have insisted, without evidence, that he was the victim of a racially-motivated murder and cover-up. They’ve convinced the Justice Department to search for the “killer,” and with methods that subvert due process. It's only fitting that Al Sharpton, a master of racial hoaxes, has left his mark.
“I want to make a difference” is a common statement of purpose for coming to work in the nation’s capital. Al Sharpton, no stranger to Washington during the Obama years, wants to make a difference. But given his track record, it will be the wrong kind. Last Wednesday and Thursday, July 8-9, Sharpton, under the banner of his New York City-based nonprofit National Action Network, sponsored a “Legislative and Policy Conference” on Capitol Hill. The well-attended event amplified his campaign to expand race-based affirmative action to uncharted areas of voting, sentencing, welfare reform and other policy areas. A parade of guest speakers urged the audience to pressure Congress to act. Like all of Reverend Al’s gambits, the campaign flies under the flag of “justice.” But given the planned core activity – lobbying – he may be skirting the law.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” goes the adage. In Al Sharpton’s family, the words are doubly true. This past weekend, Dominique Sharpton, the eldest of Reverend Al’s two adult daughters, announced she has sued the City of New York for $5 million over a sprained ankle she sustained last October while tripping over uneven pavement in the middle of a Lower Manhattan street. She claims that she was “severely injured, bruised and wounded” and “still suffers and will continue to suffer for some time physical pain and bodily injuries.” Yet given the outsized award sought, and her seemingly healthy condition only a couple months later, this may be an attempt to game our liability system; i.e., a hoax. And there is another issue: Is dad looking for a cut?
In Baltimore, the ashes have cooled; the curfew has ended; the National Guardsmen have left; and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gone home. But the apparent normalcy is misleading. For the orgy of looting, vandalism and arson last week following the death of a black petty criminal, Freddie Gray, may return with a vengeance if the six arrested local police officers, three white and three black, are not convicted. Gray died on April 19 of spinal injuries sustained a week earlier while in custody. Last Friday, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced arrests for one count of second-degree murder and several counts of manslaughter, assault and misconduct. Yet treating this case as a homicide, racially motivated or not, isn't just premature. It's also a capitulation to mob rule.
As our first African-American president, Barack Obama had the opportunity to personify the final triumph of civil rights, and in the process, become a celebrated and historic figure. Instead, his ironic legacy on race is one of abject failure, as the rioting and looting in Baltimore underscore. The tragic reality is that Obama passed on the opportunity to the “post-racial” president he promised to be when he first ran in 2008.
Like clockwork, Al Sharpton, race-hustler extraordinaire, is positioning himself as an “adviser” to the family of Walter Scott, the black man fatally shot from behind on April 4 by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., after Scott resisted arrest. The shooting was captured on cell phone video by a nearby pedestrian. On Sunday, Rev. Sharpton spoke at a local church, praising officials for firing and prosecuting the cop, Michael Slager, for first-degree murder. He stated: “This is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” He added: "I didn't come to start trouble. I come to help stop trouble." Given his history of demagoguery, North Charleston officials should ignore him. For this case, like all his others, is about black and white. And Sharpton is trouble.
Nothing underscores the Obama adminstration's failure on race relations more than its reaction to the wounding by gunfire in the wee hours last Thursday of two St. Louis-area cops at a Ferguson demonstration. Police Saturday night arrested Jeffrey Williams, a 20-year-old black who admitted to firing the shots but claimed he was aiming at someone else. Civil rights activists, predictably, are condemning Williams and denouncing “racist” police. The Department of Justice, which helped create this situation, is responding similarly. The outcome could be a nationwide law enforcement disaster.
I have sent this letter to Brian France, Chief Executive Office of NASCAR:
We ask that NASCAR end its financial support of Al Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network (NAN).
According to programs for the NAN national convention, NASCAR has served as a sponsor of the event in recent years, which is Sharpton’s primary annual fundraising event.
The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, followed weeks of Sharpton’s vilification of law enforcement personnel. Now two police officers have been gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri.
Today at National Review Online, Jillian Kay Melchior revisits two mysterious fires at Al Sharpton’s offices, in 1997 and 2003. In both, important documents were allegedly destroyed. Melchior deserves credit for going back so far, reexamining fire department reports, and actually finding people close to the incidents.
Her very detailed story describes two Complaints filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) with the Federal Election Commission that reference the fires, and Sharpton’s general disdain for filings and disclosures required of nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. From the article: