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Comments by YACCS
Monday, November 27, 2006

Why do the families call on Sharpton?

I know a lot of white people have this fantasy that Al Sharpton stirs up trouble and makes things worse when there is a racial confrontation.

But that is a fantasy.

Like waiting for the "shake down".

Sure, Sharpton can be bought, for the Jets, for any number of political causes. But that is night and day from a police shooting.

Let me explain this carefully. Al Sharpton saved a lot of lives in New York. Since his rise to prominance, there has not been a major riot in the city. Shaprton was on the outside of the Crown Heights Riot, and later walked the streets to calm people down. Whereas in other cities, full scale riots exploded (Miami in the 1980's).

His political power and street credibility has chaneled what could have been riots into lawful political protests and the courts.

The closest came during the funeral of Patrick Dorismond, where the Haitian community nearly charged the cops. Even during the most provocative actions of the Giuliani Administration, Sharpton and his supporters were able to prevent conflict with the police.

Look at the picture at the top of the post. Sharpton is talking to Bloomberg, but behind him is Councilman Charles Barron and to the right, Rev. Herbert Daughtry. Both longtime black activists, both with support in the city.

What people need to understand is that Sharpton has both a broad base of support and a great deal of respect. If people think his views are unrepresentative, they are delusional. While I make no excuse for his antics with the Dems or his hotel bills, there is a simple reason that he can still command respect among black New Yorkers.

It's because when things get tight, he doesn't run.

He stood by the Central Park Jogger defendents long after the case was no longer news. And he was vindicated as DNA cleared them. This took ten years.

While most people see the Tawana Brawley case as an abuse of power, many black people think she was raped by the police and it was covered up. So when the badly conducted libel trial took place, Sharpton was given credit for sticking up for her. Yes, he libeled innocent men, but what black women took away from that was that he refused to toss her under the bus.

Given the history of black women in this country, it's not a small deal. So while people are still ouraged by it, more than a few black people still believe she was telling the truth. So when white people bring this up in outrage, it means nothing. The effect of whites saying that as an allegation against Sharpton makes them look racist in many eyes. It is not an argument which has any validity.

I personally thought her story was bullshit and that the lawyers should have never thrown her on TV. I don't think they treated her very well. But politically, I think that whites think that it kills his credibility and for many blacks, she's a victim denied justice.

What the media has slowly realized, and politicians, is that Sharpton is not one to be ignored lightly. Why? Because he has a wide base of support from the poor and working class into middle class Queens.

Why do black families call on Sharpton?

First of all, politicians won't stand up against the NYPD, which has a tremendous public relations arm. They might for a day or two, but only the hard core will fight with them in the papers.

Second, he won't sell them out. He has stuck with cases for years, in the face of media attacks.

Third, families who try to deal with the system often get screwed. Simply put, if the Bell family hadn't gone to Sharpton, the Post version of the story would be the only version out there. New York's media still doesn't understand that their audience is no longer majority white. Without people like Sharpton and Barron out there, they would have no voice. Without political support, there is no chance of being heard.

What I find so amazing is that some people are astonished that people would seek his protection, like he's some kind of radical with views outside the community. He isn't. There aren't too many black people who don't think those cops murdered those men in a drunken rage. That may not
be the case, but I would say that without Sharpton convincing people to believe in the system,
we'd be talking about a riot in Southeast Queens.

Despite his flaws, Sharpton has managed to convince people that peaceful protest still works and that the city will respond to his demands.

And in black New York, the less white New York likes it, the more popular he becomes. But make no mistake, when he speaks, he's speaking for a lot of people

posted by Steve @ 2:29:00 PM

2:29:00 PM

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