(16 April, 2007. This column will be updated as events warrant. By design, for now, as the Don Imus fiasco is fresh on everyone’s mind, coverage will be added later. There are a number of additional posts on this site addressing the affair. First to be added though, will be Al Sharpton’s alliance with The Nation of Islam and their National Convention held in Detroit this past February. Al has the The 9th Annual National Action Convention starting this Wednesday, and we will be on hand. The origitory follows now, sorry for the commercial interruption.)
Michael Jackson looked tired. His processed straight black hair made his Norwegian-white skin seem even whiter by contrast. His lipstick, eyebrow pencil and mascara were perfect. His pert little nose was perfectly powdered. Like Bill Clinton before him, (“America’s first black president”), Michael Jackson had come to Harlem, “the capital of black America”, seeking refuge and support. After thirty years of living in splendor as one of this planet’s most lavishly remunerated performers, Jackson had suddenly come to Harlem to deplore the “exploitation” of black artists by the recording industry. Standing before a crowd at Al Sharpton’s Action Network headquarters, Jackson seized the microphone. He called Sony music mogul Tommy Mottola “a racist.” He held up a picture of Mottola, complete with horns, and called him “very, very, very devilish.” It was pure political theater.
Here’s the truth: Sony had extended Jackson a $200 million loan against his future earnings. Jackson needed the money because he’s an immature big spender. Jackson’s recent release, an album titled “Invincible,” proved to be anything but: it sold only two million copies, which wouldn’t make a dent in Jackson’s debt to Sony. The recording company offered to accept Jackson’s legal title to all of the Beatles song copyrights, which Jackson had acquired at a bargain price, as payment against his debt. Jackson refused and called the company exploitive. Sony had spent about sixty million dollars producing and promoting Invincible, but that wasn’t enough for Jackson. At age 43, Michael Jackson hasn’t come to grips with the fact that today’s pop market is too young to remember his glory days; they have no emotional attachment to him as an artist. Jackson’s ‘82 album Thriller may have sold 45 million copies, but this was 2002 and to today’s kids Jackson is just a surgically-altered freak of no recognizable race or gender who has shelled out between 15 and 24 million dollars to make accusations of homosexual child molestation go away. In other words, he’s just plain scary. Imagine Doctor Frankenstein turning himself into The Monster; that’s Michael Jackson. His behavior hasn’t been good for record sales, but Jackson would rather blame the vague forces of racism for his personal problems than face reality.
Watching approvingly from the sidelines were lawyer Johnnie Cochran and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton said that he “stands firmly behind” Jackson’s characterization of the recording industry. Some New York columnists expressed surprise that the Reverend Sharpton, who had been striving for higher office and greater respectability, would closely ally himself with the middle-aged man whom the local papers were calling Wacko Jacko. They don’t know Sharpton.
Way back in 1996, Doubleday published Go and Tell Pharaoh, the autobiography of the Reverend Al Sharpton, which the good reverend dictated when he was younger than Michael Jackson is now. Will there be a sequel covering the second half of the reverend’s life? Maybe. In any case, the folks who follow the Reverend Al do not enjoy a high rate of literacy: Go and Tell Pharaoh made it to the bargain bins in record time. It’s out of print. I tracked down a second-hand copy on the Internet and bought it from a small bookseller in Texas. It’s pure Al Sharpton: 270 pages of self-justification and self-congratulation. Sharpton has been a proud and outspoken racial patriot for decades. Two decades before Michael Jackson became a critic, Sharpton had formed a plan. Says Sharpton: “I was beginning to understand that entertainment had an incomparable influence on young people. I thought that it could have tremendous impact on black people as well, if they could begin to think about show business rather than the show, that they should not consume entertainment, should not spend a dollar unless there is some form of return to other blacks, through black promoters, black managers, black accountants.” Any list of preferred promoters would have included several of Al Sharpton’s personal friends.
Never mind that blacks have been a power in the entertainment business for decades. Never mind that Motown Records was founded and run for decades by one of the most successful black entrepreneurs of all time, Berry Gordy, a world-class equal-opportunity exploiter of talent, black and white. Never mind that Sony gave Michael Jackson his own label, MJJ Records, which folded after producing only one hit song because of Michael Jackson’s mismanagement. Michael Jackson’s tiff with Sony was Al Sharpton’s opportunity to gain a toehold in the lucrative entertainment industry; he saw his chance and he took it. Why should Jesse Jackson, whom Sharpton calls “my teacher,” get all the big shakedown bucks?
Almost two decades ago, Al Sharpton first popped up on the New York political scene. Then Mayor Ed Koch promptly dubbed him “Al Charlatan.” Since then Sharpton has acquired a staff of twenty, including a scheduler and a full-time driver who busses Sharpton about in a black Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Expedition. His National Action Network has twenty-three chapters in fifteen states.
In recent years Al Sharpton has specialized in running for political offices that he couldn’t possibly win; he ignores races in congressional districts that would embrace him. In 1994 Al Sharpton ran against Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in a primary campaign and got 80% of the black vote and 25% of the total. It was several hundred thousand votes short of victory, but noteworthy. Perhaps he enjoys the opportunity to campaign and preach; it’s what he does best. Al Sharpton has been preaching since he could stand and speak. As a boy he would line up his sister’s dolls and preach to them; he would slip on his mother’s wig and sing to the dolls like the lady at church. His father was not pleased.
For the last five years the world headquarters of Al Sharpton has been the second floor of a sad brick building on Madison Avenue, just below 125th Street. Every Saturday he belted out a sermon to a secular congregation that is broadcast on two black-owned and black-centered radio stations, WLIB and WWRL. He is introduced as the soul reacher and the people’s preacher. His sermons are punctuated with shouts of “Tell it, Rev!” from the congregation. The decorations in his headquarters include a huge photo of the Reverend Al in a prison-issue outfit and a giant wooden fist. So who is Al Sharpton?
Note to the reader: Henceforth all quotations from Al Sharpton’s autobiography will be followed by the page number of that quotation.
The Wonderboy Is Born
According to his autobiography, Alfred Sharpton was born in Brooklyn on October third 1954. His father, Alfred, Sr., was a contractor whose success guaranteed Alfred, Jr., a sheltered childhood. The Sharpton family moved on up to Hollis, Queens where they occupied a ten-room house. Both Alfred, Sr. and momma Ada had a Cadillac in the driveway. By the age of four Alfred, Jr. was preaching regularly at a Pentecostal church, the Washington Temple of God in Christ, to congregations of one thousand souls who came to soak up all the wisdom a pre-kindergarten child had to offer. Recalls the Reverend Al: I operated mainly on instinct.”(p2) At the tender age of ten, the fifth-grader was ordained by the church’s pastor, Bishop Frederick Douglass Washington. During the 1964 New York World’s Fair young Alfred belted out sermons to the slack-jawed attendees. He was billed as “The Wonder-Boy Preacher.” During his attendance at P.S. 134 little Al would always sign his school papers “the Reverend Al Sharpton.” According to the adult Al Sharpton, “it would drive her [his teacher] nuts.”
In the spring of 1964 Ada Sharpton told her son that Alfred, Sr. would be moving out . . .for good. Ada’s teenage daughter by a previous marriage, Ernestine, was visibly pregnant with Alfred, Sr’s child and the righteous Ada wanted him gone. Ada moved her family to Brooklyn and applied for welfare.
It was the Bishop Washington’s hope that one day Sharpton would marry Washington’s daughter and become pastor of the Washington Temple, but it was not to be: perverse fate intervened. The young Al Sharpton had chanced upon a ninety-cent biography of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and little Al became, in his own words, “absolutely mesmerized.” Adam Powell was then the pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and the congressman from New York’s eighteenth district.
Young Sharpton wanted to be just like Adam Powell. He pestered his mother until she agreed to take little Al to Powell’s church. Then he pestered Powell’s secretary until he received an audience with the Reverend Congressman Powell. The congressman became smitten with the boy preacher and so, at the tender age of 13, Al Sharpton became an unofficial member of Powell’s entourage. They called him “the kid.” They introduced him to every influential person in Harlem politics. As Sharpton related to writer Elizabeth Kolbert: “I met Percy Sutton, Charlie Rangle, David Dinkins, all of them, when I was ‘the kid’ in Adam Clayton Powell’s operation. So it might have something to do with how I see them. They were guys with dreams hanging around. And I was one of the court jesters of the King of Harlem.”
Al Sharpton harbors an almost obsessive fascination with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Sharpton maintains a library of Jackson’s television appearances. He studies Jesse Jackson’s methods and manners like a man with a mission. Said Sharpton: “It’s like going over the text before you take the test.” He has made explicit his belief that Jackson was a leader of his generation and that a younger generation needs its own younger leaders. “If you want to be comfortable,” Sharpton said to Jackson, “you should get a ringside seat and watch the fight.”
Protest is now Al Sharpton’s chosen profession. His survival as an impresario of protest depends upon his powers of self-promotion. Al Sharpton strives to insinuate himself into every attention-grabbing crisis. He had proposed himself as a mediator in the India-Pakistan struggle for control of Kashmir. He sought to lead a delegation to investigate prisoner accommodations at Guantanamo Bay. He had a heart-to-heart get-together with Enron employees in Houston. He went to Vieques Island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, where he denounced the dropping of inert practice bombs on a sandy bomb range as though it were an American war crime. He was arrested for criminal trespass and convicted as a repeat offender. The New York Times treated Sharpton’s antics as if they were news that was fit to print and featured the Reverend Al on its front page. Years ago, as an eager nobody, Al Sharpton had used approving articles in the Times to help him convince the black community that he was a bona fide “black leader.” Now the Times writes approvingly about a “black leader” who is, in part, the newspaper’s own creation; a whiff of incest hangs over their long-standing relationship. When Al Sharpton finally emerged from the Metropolitan Detention Center he stepped right up onto a wooden platform that had been constructed for him next to the jail and began to denounce the American military. The New York Times earnestly reported his every word. Latino New York embraced Big Al’s anti-gringo diatribe.
The Diallo Shooting
In 1999, New York’s tough and aggressive Street Crimes Unit got word that a sadistic serial rapist had been spotted uptown in the Bronx. Knowing that criminals who are facing serious jail time may choose to go down shooting, the cops arrived in force. As they rolled up on the neighborhood, they spotted a tall thin black man and asked him to answer a few questions. The man turned and ran. He had a reason for fleeing.
Amadou Diallo had lied his way into America. He had sworn to the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he had been the victim of political persecution back in Africa. He swore that members of his family had been slaughtered in politically-motivated murders. It was pure hokum. In truth, Diallo was a member of a well-to-do African family. His father had taken a new wife and Amadou had been urged to go out into the world and make his own way. He had been supporting himself in New York City as a street vendor.
When the police rolled up and wanted to chat, Diallo guessed that the INS had unmasked his charade; he didn’t know that the local NYPD never enforce federal immigration law. So, Diallo turned and ran. The cops thought his behavior was mighty suspicious. Diallo made it as far as the poorly-lit lobby of his apartment building. Inside the lobby, Diallo turned and faced an armed police force. The cops told the African, in plain English, to keep his hands high in the air. After this clear command, Diallo suddenly plunged his hand deep inside his baggy jacket. His hand came out fast. He thrust the hand and the dark object in his hand in the direction of the police. To the cops this gesture meant that a mad-dog serial rapist had made a fateful decision: he had chosen what the police call “Death by Cop.” A policeman fired a defensive shot. Then all hell broke loose.
Startled by the first shot, and convinced that this stranger was going for broke, the other police officers opened fire. The rebounding concussions of echoing gunfire were deafening. One officer lost his footing and fell backwards down the building’s front steps. His comrades thought he had been shot. Firing nine-millimeter semi-automatic handguns with fifteen-round magazines, they did their best to stop the threatening suspect cold. It was all over in about six seconds.
In the cold light of day it was discovered that forty-one shots had been fired; four of every five shots had gone wide of the mark. The remainder had killed Amadou Diallo. Diallo was unarmed; he had grabbed for his wallet.
To the self-promoting buccaneers of racial unrest Diallo’s death was a priceless gift; it provided a focus for the advancement of their anti-establishment agenda. In a heartbeat, Al Sharpton was arranging his most ambitious anti-establishment protest: two weeks of relentless civil disobedience. Hundreds of protesters were arrested. There were celebrity appearances by the high-fashion Left. Susan Sarandon made a guest appearance and enjoyed a photo-op arrest. Former Democratic mayor of New York, Ed Koch, eagerly sought Al Sharpton to arrange a spotlight performance. To quote Ed Koch: “I called him up and I said I wanted to get arrested on Monday, but could I get arrested at ten in the morning?” Sharpton responded: “I can’t do it at ten; I can only do it at eleven.” No mention was ever made of the fear-filled and confused six seconds in a cramped and dimly-lit lobby; Al Sharpton just kept repeating the chant “Forty-one shots!” as though it were emblematic of the depraved indifference of the NYPD to the value of black lives. Never mind that the cops had been on a mission to stop a vicious serial rapist of black women; telling the whole truth has never been an attractive choice to Al Sharpton.
The Reverend Sharpton lost no time contacting Amadou Diallo’s family back in Guinea. He offered himself as their personal counselor. He told them that a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of New York would make them millionaires: the son they had booted out of the nest was now worth a fortune. Sharpton left it to them to do the arithmetic: in Africa they would live like kings; all they had to do was let Al Sharpton orchestrate every media event. It worked like a charm.
Even before a grand jury had completed receiving the evidence in the Diallo case, Sharpton was demanding that the officers be indicted. A columnist for the New York Post, Michael Meyers, himself a black man, remarked: “You cannot regard someone as a civil-rights activist who does not believe in due process of law.”
To quote Al Sharpton: “Those people, black people, are my people. I set out to serve them when I started preaching at age four, and that is all that I’ve ever wanted to do.”(p 5) It’s a perfect echo of George Wallace’s justification of his notorious “segregation forever” speech; Wallace just wanted to serve his white constituents. Wallace was, and Sharpton is, a declared racial patriot. Racial pride can be an honorable thing, but flawed human beings who embrace it are always in danger of lapsing into demagoguery and bigotry. Driven by the best of intentions, Al Sharpton has become a demagogue.
Gunfire at Freddy’s
In 1995, Al Sharpton chose to become a driving force in a campaign against Freddy’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street in Harlem. The proprietor of the clothing store, who rented his space from a black church, had offended Sharpton by trying to expand his clothing store into space then occupied by a black sub-tenant. Sharpton and his National Action Network turned this local dispute into a racial hurricane. Sharpton established a cordon of chanting picketers outside of Freddy’s and left things in the care of his trusted lieutenant Morris Powell, a former mental patient. Sharpton’s picketers ranted against the “Jew bastards” and “the blood-sucking Jews.” Morris Powell darkly threatened that “this street will burn.” Morris Powell and Al Sharpton made numerous appearances on black radio stations WWRL and WLIB, stations that Sharpton has called “the drums of the contemporary black community.”(p 146) They were given an open microphone and an opportunity to reveal what was in their hearts. Powell openly threatened the Jewish owner of Freddy’s: “We gonna see that this cracker suffer.” And: “We had made contact with these crackers, and we ain’t expecting much out of ‘em, and we gonna let ‘em know they really haven’t seen how we feel about anything yet, but we gonna show ‘em.” (WWRL 8/19/95) Less than a month later Al Sharpton was on the same microphone informing New York’s black community “that we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother, so that some white interloper can expand his business on 125th Street. And we’re asking the Buy Black Committee to go down there, and I’m gonna go down there, and do what is necessary to let them know that we are not turnin’ 125th Street back over to outsiders as it was done in the early part of this century.” (WWRL 9/9/95)
It is noteworthy that when Al Sharpton wants to see black faces in high places in the recording industry he does not refer to them as “niggers” or “black interlopers”; he speaks of equal opportunity for blacks. But when a Jew owns a store in a part of America that Al Sharpton thinks should be off-limits to white people, then that businessman is vilified as a cracker and a white interloper. He’s saying that blacks should have business opportunities in every part of America, but white folks should stay the hell off the sacred soil of black communities. It’s a strange message coming from a man who claims to teach the lessons of Jesus.
The “drums” of the Harlem community had done their job. The word was out. One of Sharpton’s picketers forced his way into Freddy’s Fashion Mart and shouted: “I will be back to burn the Jew store down.” Before he could make good on his threat, another Sharpton protester named Abubunde Mulocko burst into the store with a loaded .38 caliber pistol and shot three white people. Then he shot a Pakistani because he mistook him for a Jew. Then he torched the store and burned alive five Hispanics, a Guyanese and a black security guard whom the protesters had vilified as a “cracker lover.”
After stirring up racial hatred with his heated rhetoric on 125th Street and broadcasting his hostility on two radio stations for months, the Reverend Al Sharpton abruptly claimed total ignorance of what his underlings had been up to. He had a sudden case of global amnesia. In his sanitized autobiography, Sharpton makes no mention of the incendiary broadcasts he and his buddy Morris Powell had made. To hear him tell it, he barely knew of the loud and vulgar protest at Freddy’s. “I visited once to support the picketers and to talk to all sides,” he says with feigned innocence. (p 268) Sharpton continues: “but after a few days, tapes of some statements made by me calling a lessee a white interloper, and then some more offensive and hateful statements made by others when I was not present, at my Saturday morning rally, were released by a right-wing media watch group to further the mayor’s reckless charges.”(p268) Mayor Giuliani had criticized Sharpton for turning the Freddy’s dispute onto a racial powder keg. If my memory serves, the “right-wing media watch group” that Sharpton refers to was just one guy with a pocket tape recorder who had gone to one of Sharpton’s rallies at the request of Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels. Sliwa played the tape on WABC radio in New York. Sharpton calls WABC “hate radio.”(p 141) I have heard this recording a dozen times. Sharpton did not speak the vulgarity “white interloper” in some cool detached tone of voice, he employed all the rhetorical skills he had acquired in a lifetime of preaching. He was struggling mightily to fire the crowd to action. His words, “white interloper,” sprang from his lips like a curse. His tone left no doubt: he wanted the white Jew gone from the sacred soil of Harlem.
In his own defense Sharpton says: “I was not guilty of inciting violence, but I was guilty of not upholding the standards of my speech.”(p 268) Well, spank me Mommy! Seven innocent people are dead, four other people had suffered gunshot wounds, Freddy’s Fashion Mart is a burned out shell, and the firebrand Reverend Sharpton thinks he is only guilty of sub-standard language skills.
In 1992 the Reverend Sharpton came to New Jersey to give his trademark language skills a workout. At Kean University he shared his beliefs on the developmental superiority of black folks. Intoned Sharpton: “We were the masters of the universe . . .That’s a historical fact. That ain’t racism; that’s facts. White folks was in the cave when we had built empires . . .We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.” Yup, we white folks was in the cave. Thanks for putting us in our place, Reverend Al. No word yet from them Greek homos.
The Tawana Brawley Hoax
The historical episode that brought Al Sharpton’s moral character into sharpest focus was the notorious Tawana Brawley Hoax. According to Sharpton’s autobiography, his role in that case was only that of a benign helper and guardian angel. Newspaper accounts and detailed court records paint a more sinister portrait of Al Sharpton.
On November 28th, 1987 a fifteen-year-old black teenager named Tawana Brawley was “found” inside an oversized trash bag by Mr. Lorenzo Lloray, whose wife Joyce had witnessed Tawana climbing into the bag all by herself. Tawana would not speak to Mr. Lloray. The police were summoned and Tawana was transported to a hospital. At the hospital, the teenager’s mother requested the help of a black police officer. A black officer was summoned from Poughkeepsie to Wappingers Falls to interview Tawana. The teenager refused to engage in any oral exchange with the officer. Through crude gestures and a few written notes she suggested that she had been raped “a lot” by three white policemen in “the woods.”
When word of Tawana’s allegations appeared in the media the racial profiteers rushed to Wappingers Falls. The business of racial agitation had been languishing ever since the entire civil rights agenda had been written into law, so racial careerists who were hungry for a dramatic event to revive their flagging popularity came flocking to upstate New York. Jesse Jackson was promoting himself as a candidate for president of the United States. Louis Farrakhan wanted to be the president of a separate black America and Al Sharpton was eager for any media attention. Even Mike Tyson, who had been convicted of raping a nice young black woman, came to Tawana’s hometown to give her his diamond-encrusted Rolex watch. Phil Donahue broadcast live from a pro-Tawana rally. Everyday for seven months, while the grand jury was investigating, protesters were bussed in to chant outside the courthouse, often led by their boss man, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
On December 12, 1987 a rally was held in support of Tawana Brawley at the Baptist Temple in Newburgh, New York. This church was pastored by the Rev. Saul Williams, an old friend of Sharpton’s. Sharpton shared the pulpit with black separatist and black supremacist Louis Farrakhan, who preaches that the white race was created by a demented genetic scientist named Yacub for the purpose of tormenting black folks. The congregation left convinced that the white devils had been hard at work in Wappingers Falls.
Sharpton claims that he first met Tawana’s “family” (her mother and her mother’s boyfriend) at the Baptist Temple rally.(p123) Within weeks, Sharpton, and attorneys C.Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox had snatched representation of the family away from the NAACP, whom the family felt “wasn’t aggressive enough.” Or perhaps the trio held out the promise of a much bigger payday at the taxpayer’s expense.
Sharpton is quick to stress that he simply swallowed Tawana’s story whole. According to Sharpton: “This is important because it is often implied that we were in league with Tawana on some kind of conspiracy from the start, that she lied and we knowingly embellished and fabricated the rest.”(p 124) This is the same defense that he would use as the defendant in a later defamation trial, the notion that he was just a good-hearted counselor to a seemingly decent teenage victim. Sharpton depicts himself as an innocent, as a near simpleton: “I also finally met Tawana personally . . .and talked with her in a serious manner about what happened. I was totally convinced that Tawana Brawley was telling the truth…I didn’t believe that she could just make these things up.” Later Sharpton would claim that he never discussed the details of Tawana’s story with the teenager. Newspaper records and court records prove that it was Sharpton and his pals who splashed gasoline on this incendiary situation every day for most of a year. The monstrosity that would result was as much Sharpton’s creation as it was Tawana’s.
When Governor Mario Cuomo appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the Brawley case, Sharpton admitted that “we weren’t crazy about” the governor’s choice, Attorney General Robert Abrams. (p 126) Sharpton would have preferred someone more ideologically sympathetic. As the evidence went against Tawana Brawley, Sharpton would do his best to defame the special prosecutor. Sharpton boosted his portfolio by calling the Brawley case “the most sensitive bias case in New York State history.”(p127) Throughout the entire case Al Sharpton advised the Brawley clan not to cooperate with the authorities, including the special prosecutor. Sharpton declared that to cooperate with Abrams (a Jew) would be “to sit down with Mr. Hitler.” To which Alton Maddox added: “Robert Abrams, you are no longer going to masturbate looking at Tawana Brawley’s picture.” How sweet. There is no way that Tawana could have put such images into the minds of her advisors. Sharpton and company were simply spinning defamations out of their own dark little hearts and their dirty little minds.
Finally, the special prosecutor subpoenaed Glenda Brawley, Tawana’s mother. Says Sharpton: “Abrams decided to coerce the family into cooperation with his investigation…” What? The Brawley clan and their advisors had been blabbing their version of things to the media for months. They should have been eager to tell their story under oath and place it in the court record. But they were not eager, because making statements under oath can have life-altering consequences if those statements are later proven to be falsehoods. One growing problem for the Brawley clan and for Sharpton, Mason and Maddox was the accumulating mountain of evidence that made them look like a bunch of self-serving liars.
Glenda Brawley chose to become a fugitive from justice; the Sharpton gang elected to hide her in a black church, the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Queens, New York, rather than risk her testifying under oath. When the deacons at Ebenezer told Sharpton to take his fugitive elsewhere, Glenda was moved to Bethany Baptist in Brooklyn without the police discovering the evasion. They gave Phil Donahue a call and he trotted right over and made a live broadcast from the church. Phil gave the hoaxers instant credibility with countless clueless white liberals.
Sharpton pads his support for Tawana with such statements as: “I think the majority of the black community always believed Tawana, from the beginning up until now.” And: “What I don’t think most white people understood was that there is some Tawana in most black people, almost like a collective memory…” From which we are left to conclude either that black folks are not too bright, or that they are the victims of some sort of Jungian Ur-memory type thing, or that Al Sharpton is full of horse feathers. Finally, Sharpton shoots his last wad: “At some point it stopped being about Tawana, and started being me defending my mother and all black women no one would fight for. I was not going to run away from her like my father had run away from my mother, like so many other black men had run away.”(p 136) Say what? Al seems to have forgotten that he had already told us that his mother, Ada, booted Al’s bum of a father out of the house after she discovered that he had made her daughter pregnant. Also, according to the best kept crime statistics in America, white-on-black rape is as rare as some of the rarest sexual perversions. At current rates commission, it would take the vastly larger population of white men almost two hundred years to commit as many inter-racial rapes as black men in America commit every single year. Sharpton is simply playing to black prejudice when he starts yammering about a non-existent white-on-black rape epidemic. Rape is about rage and domination. What the statistics tell us is that white men simply don’t hold a grudge against black women, but that’s not a fact that any racial profiteer would want to become common knowledge.
Perhaps the most dishonest sentence in Sharpton’s autobiography is on page 139: “What I don’t understand is why there couldn’t be a trial based on what had been discovered and uncovered.” This statement comes from the man who did his best to keep Glenda and Tawana Brawley from entering a courtroom. To hear Al Sharpton tell it, well-meaning people at the hospital obliterated all useful evidence in the Tawana Brawley case. This is a self-serving lie.
A grand jury patiently listened to seven months of testimony. They heard from one hundred eighty witnesses; they examined two hundred fifty exhibits. There were six thousand pages of testimony. Finally, the jury released a one-hundred-seventy-page report that exposed the entire Tawana Brawley abduction-and-rape story for what it was: a carefully staged hoax.
Tawana had claimed that she had been repeatedly raped and sodomized by six burly white men over a four-day period and yet not a single sperm cell was found in her vagina and not a single Caucasian pubic hair was found on her body or clothing. Tawana’s claim to have been the victim of repeated violent anal rape by six big men fell flat when a medical examination revealed that her anus was perfectly intact, without the slightest abrasion. Her sex organ was likewise declared to be in honeymoon fresh condition. The words “NIGGER” and “BITCH” that were written on her torso with some kind of prepared charcoal paste were upside-down, as though Tawana had written the words on her own chest. Investigators could find traces of this charcoal paste nowhere else other than under Tawana’s own fingernails. The excrement on her body, at first claimed to be of human origin, later proved to be animal excrement. DNA testing proved that the poop was from a collie named Remi, who frolicked in a yard near Tawana’s mother’s home and not far away in the woods where Tawana claimed to have been defiled. Joyce Lloray had witnessed Tawana climbing, unassisted, into the big trash bag. Tawana had cotton wads in her nostrils to stave off the stench of the dog poop; were these wads a tender-hearted gift from her mad-dog rapists? An examination of Tawana’s body and clothing did not produce any evidence that Tawana had spent four days in the woods; there was no plant matter whatsoever. Tawana was, however, covered with abundant debris that perfectly matched debris from an apartment that the Brawley clan had recently vacated: an apartment to which Tawana still had a key. Tawana’s friends called her a party girl. Was she partying for those four days? Was she in hiding? Her mom’s boyfriend, Ralph King, didn’t like it when Tawana stayed out late at night and Ralph had a nasty temper: he was a tough ex-con who had done time for murder. What would he have done to Tawana after she showed up after a four-day absence without a good explanation? Tawana would have needed an amazingly good explanation. The word on the street was that Tawana and her mother had concocted the abduction-and-rape story to save Tawana from a nasty beatdown; all that stuff about her being attacked by white policemen was thrown in to make Glenda’s cop-hating ex-con boyfriend swallow the story hook, line and sinker.
The street-smart Al Sharpton knows all of these facts. His claim to believe Tawana’s story is, in itself, a hoax. The grand jury found Tawana’s story to be unsupported by any evidence; they found her story to be preposterous; they found it to be defamatory.
Tawana Brawley’s brain trust, Sharpton, Mason and Maddox, had pointed the finger of guilt at a part-time policeman named Harry Crist, Jr. who had committed suicide a few days after Tawana was “found” in her own trash bag. Crist had been depressed over a series of career setbacks and he killed himself only hours after the collapse of a relationship with a woman he loved intensely. Based on no evidence whatsoever, the ever-reckless Al Sharpton proclaimed that Harry Crist was one of Tawana’s attackers. When alibi witnesses appeared to redeem Harry Crist’s good name, Sharpton instantly declared that these witnesses must also have been participants in Tawana’s alleged gang rape. In a heartbeat, Al Sharpton had accused State Trooper Scott Patterson and Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones of being sex criminals, based on no evidence whatsoever. Sharpton strode out before an expectant news media and proclaimed that Pagones had murdered Harry Crist to keep his crime against Tawana a secret; Sharpton was reaching down into his dark little soul and saying whatever he thought would serve his purposes best at that moment. Mason, Maddox and Sharpton declared that there was a connection between Governor Mario Cuomo and organized crime, as well as the Ku Klux Klan. It was Sharpton at his most berserk. “Mr. Pagones and his organized crime cronies are suspects!” he ranted on ABC’s Geraldo Rivera Show. Nightline, Phil Donahue and numerous other programs eagerly gave Sharpton a platform on which to showcase his invented slanders. Sharpton and his pals repeatedly depicted Steven Pagones, an upright husband, father and law enforcement officer, as a depraved racist sexual predator. After describing Steven Pagones as a sex criminal at a nationally covered news conference, the morally decrepit Alton Maddox declared “If I didn’t have direct evidence, I wouldn’t be sitting here saying that.” It was all a lie.
Sharpton taunted Steven Pagones and dared him to sue the loud-mouthed trio. Pagones had taken enough of their lying crap. He sued. Sharpton, Mason, Maddox and Tawana Brawley were now the defendants.
During the Steven Pagones defamation trial the defendants behaved like buffoons. They blustered and ranted. They said that Tawana would finally appear and testify under oath. The media were alerted, but Tawana never showed. Steven Pagones had generously offered to hold Tawana not liable for damages if she would testify. She refused to testify under oath. The Reverend Al’s selected defense was that under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Reverend Al could say anything in public that popped into his head, without regard to the truth of his statements, as long as he was acting as someone’s well-intentioned counselor. He sort of invented an immunity-from-slander-charges clause for stupid, loud-mouthed clergymen. During the defamation trial a large-screen television was brought into the courtroom and the jury as shown videotapes of the Reverend Sharpton on several TV shows repeatedly accusing Steven Pagones of hideous sex crimes that were never committed. In truth, Pagones had so many alibi witnesses for the four crucial days that the grand jury requested that they please stop testifying: the jury had been more than convinced.
After an exhaustive review of the evidence, the court found that Tawana’s claim that she had been abducted and raped was complete rubbish. In Judge Hickman’s words: “It is probable that in the history of this state, never has a teenager turned the prosecutorial and judicial systems literally upside-down with such false claims.”
The defendants had requested a subpoena for the appearance of Michael Baden, an expert in forensic pathology, best remembered for his appearance at the O.J.Simpson murder trial, but at the last moment the defendants withdrew their subpoena. They offered no other expert testimony to contradict the enormous weight of the evidence against them. The renowned Dr Park Deitz, famous for his incisive psychological portraits of notorious criminals, concluded that “Tawana Brawley’s physical appearance when she was found is consistent with self-infliction and false accusation.”
The court awarded punitive damages against the lying Tawana Brawley of $180,000. Alton Maddox was suspended from practicing law in 1990 because he refused to participate in an ethics investigation of his role in the Brawley case. C.Vernon Mason was barred from practicing law in 1995 because of “a pattern of professional misconduct.” When last heard from Mason was a seminary student; perhaps he will emerge as yet another racial racketeer and shakedown artist like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, or Jackson’s attentive student, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
In 1998 Sharpton was ordered to pay Steven Pagones $65,000 in damages. Sharpton refused to pay the judgment. With accumulating interest and penalties the judgment rose to $87,000. By January 2001, Steven Pagones had only collected $15,000 by having Sharpton’s salary garnisheed. Then a group of wealthy black men stepped in to pay Sharpton’s debt.
This clutch of rich blacks included veteran race baiter Bill Tatum, publisher of the Amsterdam News, and two men who have profited handsomely from Jesse Jackson’s non-stop shakedown machine: Percy Sutton, the head of Inner City Broadcasting and attorney Johnnie Cochran, who had spent his professional life dealing from a deck that contained nothing but race cards. Sutton was quoted in the New York Post as saying: “There were enough people who thought it should be done to insulate [Sharpton] from any further controversy,” which is comical. Insulate Sharpton from controversy? Al Sharpton lives to generate controversy and social discord. What Percy Sutton really meant was that too many people were now taking too close a look at the small group of black men who have made themselves fabulously wealthy by banding together and shaking down American businessmen and the American taxpayers. Sharpton was one of their soul mates.
In any case, the $87,000 payout was chump change to these big-bucks black men, but that was scant compensation for Steven Pagones who had endured a decade of emotional turmoil, needless expense, death threats, groundless suspicion and the eventual dissolution of his marriage, all because of the totally bogus and self-invented accusations of the Reverend Alfred Sharpton, a man who makes true Christians wince merely by claiming to be a Christian himself. Sharpton’s continued defamation of Steven Pagones, even after six thousand pages of court evidence that exposed Tawana Brawley for the liar she is, revealed the genuinely evil essence of Alfred Sharpton. Sharpton has never showed any remorse for the incalculable and unnecessary suffering that he inflicted on the Crist, Patterson and the Pagones families, or for the way he relentlessly poisoned race relations in America, or for the way he eluded personal responsibility for the payment of his debt. When asked about his role in the Brawley hoax, this clergyman-without-a-conscience replied: “If I had it to do again, I’d do it in the same way.” On page 137 of his autobiography he makes the preposterous statement: “Tawana was never disproved.” On page 139 he says: “I believe Tawana, to this day. I have always believed her and always will.” On the witness stand Sharpton had admitted that he never spoke with the teenager in any detail about the case. Said Sharpton under oath: “I would not engage in sex talk with a fifteen-year-old girl.” This was a far cry from the Sharpton who had ranted that Tawana had been sodomized “two different ways.” Sharpton testified that he got all his information second-hand from other people; in other words, he relied on gossip. Al Sharpton has closed his eyes to the damage that he has done to social relations in America. The Brawley case will forever be Al Sharpton’s “Chappaquiddick,” but he thinks that people are “obsessed” with the case that keeps haunting him. To quote the Reverend Sharpton from his autobiography(p 140): “Why, if Al Sharpton went out tonight and dived in front of a bullet intended for the pope, would a bunch of white guys stand up and say, ‘But what about Tawana?’ I think Tawana represents a real problem for Americans. . .What it has to do with is a psychological dilemma that America still can’t get past. It’s a racial/sexual psychosis that’s become part of the fabric of the country that they can’t get past.” In other words, “white guys” who raise questions about the Reverend Sharpton’s deplorable behavior are “obsessed” and caught in the grips of a “racial/sexual psychosis.” End of discussion. Sharpton is a racial chauvinist; please don’t distress him with the facts.
Gang Rape in Central Park
On April 19, 1989 a large group of young men committed a series of felony assaults in New York’s Central Park. Among that night’s victims was a female investment banker who became known as the Central Park Jogger. She was raped, sodomized, beaten with a pipe, dragged and left for dead in a deep coma. Such wolf-pack gang attacks were common enough in New York City to have acquired their own name: wilding. That’s what “minority youth” called it, which was not to be confused with “whirling” which is a gang sexual assault on a young woman in one of New York’s public swimming pools.
There were arrests, and in a flash New York’s master of charismatic racism was hogging the spotlight. Al Sharpton and his loyal followers immediately heaped scorn upon the near-dead victim. Based upon no evidence whatsoever, Sharpton declared that the victim’s boyfriend had raped and beaten her almost to death. At rallies, the Sharpton claque chanted: “The boyfriend did it! The boyfriend did it!” None of which squared with the detailed confessions of the defendants. That didn’t matter to Sharpton. The Sharpton gang assembled at the courthouse and screamed that the nearly murdered woman was “a whore.” They screamed her name again and again even though decent publications refused to print the name of any rape victim; the exceptions were several black-owned publications that splattered her name all over the place. As a final slimy touch, Sharpton brought Tawana Brawley to the trial of the Central Park rapists and introduced her to the confessed sex criminals. She greeted them warmly. A signature Sharpton moment was when the Reverend Al requested that a psychiatrist examine the victim. Said the Rev., “We’re not endorsing the damage to the girl…if there was this damage.” What can one say? The man is a prize pig.
The Racial Patriot
The single unwavering theme of Al Sharpton’s life has been racial patriotism. As Sharpton explains in his autobiography (p 5): “Those people, blacks, are my people. I set out to serve them when I started preaching at the age of four, and that is all that I’ve ever wanted to do.” He proudly adds: “I’m totally financed by the black community,” which makes him immune to the criticism of other communities. Says Al: “Those people, the lower class, trust me. I was their child prodigy . . .They know me; I carry many of their aspirations.” He has defined his power base; he has declared his immunity from criticism from even the majority of American blacks who are now middle-class citizens. “I never had a private life,” says Sharpton, “but I always knew how to attract attention; I grew up attracting the attention of the crowd. I grew up understanding the psychology of standing out. And I understood the emotions of people.” (p.10) Playing to the emotions of the black lower class would become Al Sharpton’s chosen occupation. The fact that his chosen constituency tended to be poorly educated, chronically uninformed and wedded to a popular unhistorical black mythology suited the Reverend Al’s game plan perfectly.
Al Sharpton was ever the social climber, but his identification with the boorish underclass meant that he could only climb as high as the black hustler aristocracy. His father had been, in Al’s own words, “a slumlord.” “At one point my father was doing so well he bought two Cadillacs every year, one for my mother, one for him.”(p 17) Sharpton frets about the “tragic threads I’ve seen in powerful black men I’ve known, from my father to my first hero, Adam Clayton Powell, to James Brown, who became like my father, to Jesse Jackson, who was my second hero, to Don King. They seem to hit a ceiling . . .even though they went further than other blacks, they could never get to where they might otherwise have gone.” Where does Al Sharpton imagine they might have gone? Adam Clayton Powell was a corrupt congressman who was bounced from Congress; James Brown is a chronic wife beater and drug abuser who has repeatedly invited the attention of law enforcement. Don King is a corrupt, mob-connected scumbag and former killer who robbed and exploited his boxers without conscience. Contrary to popular opinion, Muhammad Ali does not suffer from Parkinson’s disease; he is afflicted with Parkinson’s syndrome, which was caused by far too many blows to his head. Ali could have retired from the ring much earlier if Don King hadn’t robbed him of his rightful earnings. Jesse Jackson, whom Sharpton calls his teacher, has enlarged himself through numerous shakedowns and shady business dealings. Jackson is the king of the black hustler aristocrats. Sharpton is dismayed that his heroes have remained among America’s lesser nobility. Sharpton’s admiration for Adam Clayton Powell spills over: “He had a way about him that was provocative and exciting, as well as being particularly irritating to whites.” (p 37) What more could one ask? Says Al Sharpton, a self-proclaimed follower of Jesus: “I was totally mesmerized. I would have killed for him.”
It was at Tilden High School that the young Reverend Sharpton began to sharpen his political skills. Recalls the reverend: “If we went down to the cafeteria at Tilden and we didn’t like the food that day, we’d call a strike and close down the whole school. We hated the dress code – you couldn’t wear jeans, you had to wear a shirt with a collar. We wanted to wear shorts, jeans, dashikis, kufis. We had strikes and demonstrations and we won.”(p 51) In other words, he learned that if he threw a big enough tantrum, the adults would cave in and give him what he wanted. The weak adults in Al Sharpton’s life turned him into an even bigger, ever more ego-centric brat than he was as a pre-schooler.
Sharpton fondly recalled a favorite teacher who “spent a lot of time with me, he gave me books, and I’d study Marxism, Socialism, Mao Tse Tung, things like that. I even went through a little Mao phase, wearing a red button and carrying the Little Red Book around with me. I learned everything there was to learn about leftist politics from Mr. Salow.” It’s nice to have a mentor. Having wasted his school years absorbing the lessons of the 20th Century’s worst economists and most murderous political criminals, the young Reverend Sharpton set for himself the task of enlightening America about everything it was going wrong.
About Christmas time in 1984 a slightly-built electrical technologist named Bernhard Goetz was minding his own business on a New York City subway ride. Suddenly he was boxed in by four teenage toughs who “asked” him for money in a manner that let the streetwise Mr. Goetz know that he had no choice in the matter. In fact, Troy Canty had demanded: “Give me your money!” Mr. Goetz had been the victim of a previous nasty mugging and he feared that his life was endangered. Mr. Goetz had a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. He used it.
No one was killed, but one young tough was permanently paralyzed with a bullet in his spine. The “black youth” were packing screwdrivers, the working tips of which had been ground to needle-sharp points. Were these man-killing spikes? Or were they just “tools” to jimmy open coin boxes, as the liberal press was so eager to suggest.
The very idea that a white person would stand up to the reign of terror that had cowed millions of New Yorkers of all races for a decade drove Al Sharpton nuts. The common people of New York made Bernhard Goetz an instant folk hero: they had lived in fear for too long; someone had finally fought back. Sharpton immediately sought to restore the previous status quo, that sad time when New Yorkers simply endured the nasty behavior of feral urban “youth.”
Sharpton says he first read about the shooting in the newspaper. “So I called a news conference on the steps of City Hall and denounced the situation.” The “situation” was one slightly-built white guy who had preserved his bodily health at the expense of four subterranean thugs. Sharpton believes that people should be more forgiving of the marauding bands of poorly-parented young toughs who make life in New York a daily ordeal. So the Reverend Sharpton “decided to go to Manhattan and start marching on Bernhard Goetz. I went to his apartment house in 14th Street and immediately we started getting press coverage.” It was everything Al Sharpton had prayed for. “We held prayer vigils; we went to all the court proceedings. I had learned those things from the civil rights movement, so to speak . . .We had never gone to white people’s houses or to their neighborhoods to picket and march. We created drama.”(p 89) Sharpton was in hog heaven. He had cornered a white man in his apartment; a man who had defended his life and his dignity. Crowed Sharpton: “We were the ones who agitated until he was indicted on a gun charge. It was a mixed victory, but at least he spent a year in jail on the gun violation, carrying a concealed weapon.” In his autobiography, Al Sharpton is careful not to mention the concealed weapons, the needle-sharp screwdriver shanks that his beloved “black youth” were packing when they cornered Bernhard Goetz. Nor does he mention that three of the youths, Barry Allen, Troy Canty and James Ramseur later committed other serious crimes. James Ramseur brutally raped, sodomized, savagely beat and then robbed a pregnant nineteen-year-old woman. He was convicted. The bullet in Darrell Cabey’s spine ended his promising criminal career.
A young black woman, Andrea Reid, who was on the subway with her husband and baby, witnessed the assault on Bernhard Goetz and later stated that those “punks” got “what they deserve.” Under oath, newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin testified that Darrell Cabey had told him that he and the three other “youth” had intended to rob Bernhard Goetz because “he looked like easy bait.” Well, the “easy bait” defended himself. The Reverend Sharpton’s autobiography is silent on all of these enlightening details. Clearly, it is Sharpton’s purpose to create and maintain a mythology of black victimhood; it is not his purpose to preserve the historical record. He dismisses the victim, Bernhard Goetz, as a “psychotic racist who went looking for trouble,” in the same easy manner as his claque labeled the savagely abused Central Park Jogger “a whore.” Adds the Baptist clergyman: “I’m proud to say that I contributed to getting him time in jail that he did receive.”(p 93)
Martin Luther King’s Big Lesson
According to Al Sharpton, it was Martin Luther King, Jr. the self-styled follower of Gandhi, who first impressed upon the young clergyman the need to “raise the level of theater” in the streets. Says Sharpton: “You have to be able to bring fear and drama into your political causes or you’ll go unnoticed.” Adds the Reverend Al: “I never get a permit to march because I don’t think I should have to, I think it’s a human right to march,” which means that within the cramped and congested confines of urban New York City, the Reverend Al feels that he can guiltlessly spawn surprise demonstrations that will inflict inconvenience, anxiety and suffering on countless innocent people. He is afflicted with the same overblown sense of self-importance that allowed Bill Clinton to blithely shut down an entire airport while he indulged himself in a haircut inside his parked airplane, or that encouraged Al Gore to have long stretches of the New Jersey highway system closed to traffic so that he could speed to a party hosted by a pop singer. It doesn’t seem to enter the heads of these egoists that the roads and the rails and the airports are also used by people with pressing needs: pregnant women, people whose idling cars are running on vapor, and people who really need to get to a bathroom.
Sharpton recalls the day he announced that he would lead a legion of black folks out to Howard Beach: “We were going to march all the way through the neighborhood.” “That was another big moment for me, because I was standing there at the head of the march of thousands . . .and I’m the one who has called the march. I had arrived as an activist.” “The next day the New York Times had us on the front page, and we were big news everywhere around the world,” says Sharpton gleefully. He opines: “I’m often accused of being a media hound.” Well, yes. Especially after telling us that his chosen method of operation is to “raise the level of theater” and to infuse street confrontations with heightened fear and drama.
Sharpton’s stated purpose for his march on Howard Beach was to denounce the senseless death of Michael Griffith, who had been struck by a motor vehicle while fleeing from a gang of white toughs. The sympathy of the city was with Michael Griffith; there was no need for Al Sharpton to do anything, but this was a wound that Mister Sharpton just had to pick at. Sharpton chose to heighten the level of theater in the streets and to infuse the situation with more drama by making repeated broad-brush statements about the moral character of the entire Howard Beach community. His portrait of Howard Beach as an annex of Hell populated by pre-human white demons, only served to make the whole neighborhood plenty pissed off. Sharpton had defamed all of them because of the crime of a few jerks down at the pizzeria. Sharpton single-handedly transformed a saddened community into an angry neighborhood. He had wounded their pride. Howard Beach now focused their anger on one man, Al Sharpton, who then proceeded to play the community like a violin.
When the folks in Howard Beach saw Sharpton leading thousands of blacks into their neighborhood, some of them began to vent their pent up frustration. Recalls Sharpton: “I, of course, was a center of attention and hecklers pointed at me and threw things.”(p 105) They gave Big Alfred an earful. The word “nigger” got a pretty good workout. Sharpton later used media images from his Day of Outrage to “prove” that the people of Howard Beach were just as loathsome as he had insisted they were. Crowed Sharpton: “We made Howard Beach into ‘Howard Beach’.” Indeed, he did. He also soured race relations to suit his personal purposes.
For his role in embroiling thousands of New Yorkers in a near race riot the court sentenced Sharpton and his black nationalist sidekick and former Black Panther, Charles Barron, to 45 days on Riker’s Island. David Dinkins, New York’s first black mayor, quickly moved Sharpton and Barron to more desirable digs at the Brooklyn House of Detention. They were given a tier all to themselves with a twenty-four-hour telephone. The next day 60 Minutes aired a gushing portrait of the Reverend Sharpton. After only ten days, a Dinkins assistant came to Sharpton and offered him a work release program to Sharpton’s own office. The same offer was made to Charles Barron. Says Sharpton: “We agreed to take it. Charles and I are probably the first prisoners in history who were released to supervise our own work release.” In other words, this racial incendiary was given a sweet deal by the city’s liberal-left power brokers. Did Sharpton appreciate his cushy treatment? Of course not. “Would this have happened to a white activist? I doubt it,” whined Sharpton. (p 231) But in the very next paragraph Sharpton explains why he was sent to the slammer: “I’ve been arrested twenty times and jailed, for five days, five times.” In other words, he’s a repeat offender. It’s the same reason he got a stiff sentence for trespassing on the Vieques bomb range. Hadn’t he also closed down the Statue of Liberty; hadn’t he stopped traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway?
On the evening of August 23, 1989 a group of thirty-two neighborhood young men had gathered to air their feelings. A topic of conversation was a neighborhood girl, white and Italian-American like themselves, who was openly dating a young black man. One of the neighborhood fellas was smitten with the girl, which put an edge of jealousy and hurt pride on their loose talk. To raise the temperature even further, the girl had responded to criticism by telling these young men that her black boyfriend and some of his black buddies were coming to the neighborhood that very evening to teach the Italians a much-needed lesson.
As the Italians talked and grumbled, sixteen-year-old Yusuf Hawkins and three of his friends from East New York got off the N-train at the wrong stop in Bensonhurst. They had come in response to an advertisement for a used car. They were strangers to the neighborhood. When they came up out of the subway they realized that they would now have to walk several blocks to reach the 1982 Pontiac they had come to examine; with every step they moved closer to the thirty-two disgruntled defenders of Italian ethnic pride. All the elements of a spontaneous tragedy were in place; within minutes Hell would break loose in Brooklyn at Bay Ridge and 20th avenues.
When the crowd caught sight of Yusuf and his buddies, they gave chase. The larger group overwhelmed the four blacks; shots were fired. Yusuf Hawkins was struck twice in the heart; he was dead on arrival at Maimonides Hospital. Police recovered four spent .32 caliber shells and seven baseball bats at the scene.
Al Sharpton claimed that he was summoned to the home of the victim’s family by Moses Stewart, the father of Yusuf Hawkins.(p157) From the moment he arrived at the Stewart home in East New York, Al Sharpton began to stage-manage all aspects of the Bensonhurst tragedy in his, by now, trademark fashion. As in the Tawana Brawley Hoax, which he had recently completed, and in the Amadou Diallo tragedy, Sharpton’s first move was to isolate the family of the victim from all but a few carefully chosen news media outlets and friendly media personalities. Said Sharpton: “We decided to go on WLIB live, and we let into the house the LIB reporter, Dominic Carter, and the only print journalist we knew and trusted at the time, Peter Noel, of the City Sun. Moses and I did two hours live on the radio with Imhotep Gary Byrd (who pioneered black talk radio and who I have often had to turn to in a crisis) . . .Moses announced that I would be the family’s adviser and supervise their interactions with the authorities.”(p 159) Which is to say, only media people who shared Sharpton’s perspectives and assumptions were allowed to make any direct inquiries. This is the same Al Sharpton who had “supervised” Tawana Brawley by advising her never to take the witness stand and who made Tawana’s mother a fugitive to keep her from being questioned under oath. Sharpton had prevented the Diallo family from having any personal contact with the mayor of New York because any friendly human relations with the people Sharpton had been demonizing would have cooled down the cauldron of racial animosity that Sharpton had worked so hard to keep boiling.
The Reverend Sharpton used his assault on the Howard Beach community as a blueprint for his attack on Bensonhurst. First he used the willing black media to prime the pump with plenty of poison, tarring the entire Bensonhurst community with a relentless torrent of crude slanders. Then he “announced that we were heading for Bensonhurst the next Saturday, where I would be leading a march right through the middle of that neighborhood.” Said Sharpton: “We had to prolong our protests and activities to say unequivocally to the whites in Bensonhurst that this was the end,” by which he meant the end of threats to blacks in certain areas of the city. The voluble Reverend Sharpton is silent about the harrowing experiences of whites in black neighborhoods. When he talked of prolonging the protests he is referring to almost thirty separate marches through Bensonhurst. These marches, and Sharpton’s relentless slanders in the media, provoked exactly the response that Sharpton was after: anger, fistfights, shouted obscenities. Then he would point to the crowd and say, “See how racist they are?”
On Saturday January 12, Al Sharpton and about five hundred of his hardcore protesters boarded buses and headed for the heart of Bensonhurst. It would be their twenty-ninth assault on the neighborhood. The police met them at the usual gathering place on Fulton Street. They parked in a barricaded schoolyard. Sharpton sat in his car as his assistants got everyone into formation. Finally, an assistant summoned the Reverend Sharpton for his star performance at the front of the line. As the fat man whose moral outrages are exceeded only by his crimes against good taste (orange velveteen jumpsuits, gaudy gold medallions and lacquered pompadours), Sharpton was easy for any intruder to spot. Recalled Sharpton: “I felt someone punch me in the chest . . .and before I could get a clear look at him I looked down and saw a knife sticking out of my chest.” Sharpton pulled the knife out, then fell to his knees. He had blood on his hand. People started screaming.
On his ride to the hospital he wonders who his assailant was: “The Mafia had been threatening me, telling me not to come back out there, and they were certainly smart enough to use a poisoned dagger, an old Italian trick. So I’m sprawled there in the car, wondering, am I poisoned?” He arrived at the hospital wearing a jogging suit and a full-length leather coat. When he realized that the medics were going to cut the coat off his wounded body he “made them stop and hauled myself off the gurney and took my coat off.” (p 177)
Marchers soon appeared at the hospital chanting “Let’s burn down Bensonhurst, let’s burn down New York!” “Some black kids had beaten a white kid on the train and claimed, ‘This is for Sharpton.’ There were other incidents.” (p 178) The Fruit of Islam, the paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam (a.k.a the Black Muslims) stood guard over Sharpton. Mayor Dinkins was having a panic attack over the prospect of wide-spread violence in New York City. He begged Sharpton to call for peace. Dinkins came to Sharpton’s bed side and said, “There are people talking about burning down the city because of this.” (p 178) Jesse Jackson paid a call and told Sharpton that the only reason he was still alive was that Sharpton had seven inches of fat and the knife was only six inches long. “It hurt to laugh,” recalled Sharpton“but I had to.” A New York Times photographer snapped a picture of the two legendary race hustlers laughing and grinning together. The photo “appeared everywhere.’ (p 181)
At no time does the Reverend Sharpton acknowledge, or seem capable of acknowledging, how his own behavior provokes in others the very behavior he says he deplores. In his own mind he is just the passive, innocent target of mindless white racism. At no time does he see himself as a man who is forever trying to douse a fire with a bucket of gasoline.
In the end, the police made several arrests in Bensonhurst; all were charged with assault, riot, civil rights violations, menacing, aggravated harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon. There was one murder conviction, for which Joseph Fama received a sentence of 32 and two-thirds years to life. Keith Mondello was cleared of murder charges but was convicted of lesser offenses and received a sentence of five and a third to sixteen years. The criminal justice system did its job.
To hear Al Sharpton tell it, the death of Yusuf Hawkins, and all other crimes, real or imagined, that had been perpetrated against the objects of his beneficent guidance, would have been swept under the rug and forgotten but for the saving grace of the Reverend Al Sharpton. He is totally blind to the ways in which he has poisoned race relations in New York City for at least a generation. It’s not his concern; in a world of harmonious racial relations race hustlers like Sharpton would be permanently unemployed.
Blood in the Streets: The Crown Heights Terror
On the evening of August 19th, 1991 the three-car motorcade of the Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Grand Rebbe of the Chabad Lubavitch, was on its return trip from the Rebbe’s weekly visit to the graves of his wife and his father-in-law, the former Grand Rebbe. The motorcade was headed for the world headquarters of the Lubavitcher sect on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, in Brooklyn, New York. The first car in the motorcade was an unmarked police car from the 71st Precinct; the Rebbe Schneerson was in the second car; the last car was a 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis station wagon driven by one Yosef Lifsh, who was accompanied by two other Lubavitch men.
The motorcade entered the intersection of Utica Avenue and President Street at an average city speed. As the station wagon entered the intersection, a Chevrolet Malibu closed in on the motorcade moving in the same direction as the motorcade. The Mercury and the Malibu collided. The hapless Yosef Lifsh was sent careering off the roadway. In an instant, the Mercury jumped the curb and struck two Guyanese cousins. Seven-year-old Angela Cato was severely injured; seven-year-old Gavin Cato was pinned beneath the station wagon. The African-Caribbean immigrant men who sat smoking and drinking beer on the stoops were stunned by the sudden calamity before them. Several by-standers tried to lift the Mercury off the children. Yosef Lifsh lent a hand, but he was attacked by a crowd of Caribbean and American blacks. A Lubavitcher passenger from the Mercury tried to call 911 on his cell phone to get emergency help for the youngsters, but he too was attacked by blacks before he could complete the call.
At 8:22 PM officers from the 71st Precinct were dispatched to the scene and a City ambulance was ordered to the scene. Hasidic Jews of the Hatzolah Ambulance Service, an all-volunteer service entirely funded by the Hasidic community, monitored the City dispatcher and sent one of their own ambulances to the accident site.
The Hatzolah ambulance arrived at the accident first. When they arrived, police at the scene ordered the ambulance crew to immediately remove the Lubavitch men before the emotional crowd of one hundred fifty blacks could injure them further; the cops wanted to prevent a triple murder. The ambulance crew did as they were ordered. Meanwhile, another Hasidic man from Hatzolah arrived by car with specialized trauma equipment and helped the City ambulance crew who were working on young Angela. Gavin Cato was rushed to Kings County Hospital by City ambulance. Soon after his arrival at the hospital, Gavin Cato died.
Immediately, the false rumor began to circulate that the Hatzolah ambulance crew had saved the Jews and left the black children to die on the sidewalk. The black community was only too eager to believe this falsehood; the bogus rumor nurtured a longstanding grievance that the Hatzolah Service, which was a private organization funded entirely from contributions from the Lubavitcher community, did not also serve the Caribbean-American and African-American communities, even though the black community had never contributed a penny to support the service. The black community of Crown Heights includes a substantial number of middle-class and professional people who could easily have supported an ambulance service, but they chose not to organize such a service for themselves; they preferred to whine and blubber that the Jews were not offering their Hatzolah Service to them for free.
The blacks grew restive; they began to throw rocks and bottles at Lubavitchers on the street. There were too few police at the scene to control the crowd. The sporadic unrest soon erupted into a full-blown rampage. Once the young blacks realized that the cops would not stop them, they hurled rocks, shattered windows, set fires and looted stores. They ran through the streets shouting, “Heil Hitler!” The Lubavitch Jews in the neighborhood, none of whom knew anything of the accident at Utica and President, were taken completely by surprise. Gangs of blacks roamed the streets attacking Jews, beating them and taking from them whatever they could steal.
At 11:20 PM, a roaming gang of about fifteen young black males shouting “Get the Jew!” swarmed over an uncomprehending Hasidic scholar named Yankle Rosenbaum and stabbed him repeatedly. Yankel was taken to the same hospital where Gavin Cato had died. Yankel himself passed away hours later, after positively identifying sixteen-year-old Lemrick Nelson as his attacker. Nelson had been apprehended carrying a bloody knife. Nelson confessed that he had stabbed Rosenbaum.
Black gangs had free run of the streets in Crown Heights for four days. New York City’s first black mayor, David Dinkins, repeatedly referred to these savage criminal predators as “demonstrators.” The police force, under the direction of black police commissioner Lee Brown, let the Jew-hating racist pogrom continue without police intervention. Mayor Dinkins, who had a passion for the game of tennis, ignored the flames in Crown Heights and went to the U.S. Open in Forest Hills. In 1993, a New York state report criticized both Dinkins and Brown for their thumb twiddling during the runaway Crown Heights racial hatefest.
Recently, Charles Price admitted in court that he thought “revenge was appropriate” because Jewish people were being treated better than blacks. He said he exhorted the crowd to “take” Kingston Avenue because there were Jews and Jewish-owned stores there. Price had pumped up the crowd with the cry “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!” Back in 1996, at his first sentencing, Price had denied his guilt completely; he had suggested that the city’s Jews had conspired to convict him, but Charles Price was identified on a videotape as he incited the all-black lynch mob. In court, Price said, “In my heart, I have never been a racist.” On videotape he is seen shouting, “Let’s get the Jews!”
In the end, stores were looted and burned, cars were overturned and burned, 188 people were injured and assaulted and two white people were lynched as thousands of blacks rampaged through the streets of New York City for four days. Yankel Rosenbaum lay dead from four stab wounds; Italian-American Anthony Graziosi was murdered by a black lynch mob because he “looked like a Jew.”
Black commentators never mention the murdered Mr. Graziosi because his death upsets the stupid symmetry of a brainless equation that exists nowhere else but in their tiny minds: “Gavin Cato is dead, Yankel Rosenbaum is dead, everything is even,” which is rubbish. Gavin Cato was killed in a traffic accident. There were more than 600 traffic fatalities in New York City in 1991 and very few of them led to an indictment. Yankel Rosenbaum, by contrast, was deliberately lynched by a hate-filled black mob. Anthony Graziosi was also lynched by another hate-filled black mob in the streets of America’s foremost city, in 1991. Black commentators don’t want to admit that urban blacks will so easily behave like country-bumpkin whites of long ago, so they fudge the historical record, they sweep the slaughtered Mr. Graziosi under the rug and then they fret about why Yosef Lifsh wasn’t indicted. Black commentators also sought to diminish black guilt by painting the Crown Heights pogrom as a contest between equals. Black columnist E.R.Shipp wrote in her Daily News column that the Crown Heights reign of terror amounted to “disturbances that pitted some Jews and some blacks against each other.” Well, Ms. Shipp, the “some blacks” numbered in the thousands; they poured in from other communities to participate in a four-day hatefest that exposed their spiritual essence for the whole world to witness.
Al Sharpton struggles, against all evidence, to paint a similar false picture of the Crown Heights rampage; he minimizes the chaos by saying “there were several disturbances on the streets.”(p 194); he says “the Jews were getting the better of it because the blacks were not expecting the attacks.” He’s talking trash. The Lubavitchers of Crown Heights were caught completely off-guard by the black mobs that swarmed over them. Black radio stations did their best to incite all of black New York City against the Jews. Young blacks traveled, en masse by subway, to frolic in the flames of anarchy. Thousands of blacks roamed the streets of Crown Heights for four days working their criminal will on the hapless Lubavitchers, while the city’s first black mayor attended tennis matches and the city’s black police commissioner sat on his hands.
Sharpton says of the Jewish community that they “have built something of a Fort Apache in the black ghetto, which is a hot and cold irritant to their neighbors.” In other words, the Caribbean and American blacks would have been happier if the Jews left Crown Heights.
The black communities of Crown Heights, both Caribbean and American, did harbor long-standing resentments against the Jews; they resented the City’s accommodations to the Lubavitcher’s specific needs, such as closing some streets to vehicles on Jewish holy days. Prior to the Second World War, Crown Heights had been mostly white, with a burgeoning middle-class. After the war, the neighborhood experienced an accelerating demographic shift; the neighborhoods that had been solidly middle-class Jewish through the 1950s experienced a sudden influx of Caribbean and American blacks. Relaxed immigration laws had opened the door to a rush of Caribbean peoples from various countries in the 1950s and ‘60s. By the 1980s, Caribbean blacks were the fastest growing immigrant group in the four-hundred-city-block area of Crown Heights. By the 1990s, four of every five residents in Crown Heights was of African descent. What had kept the Lubavitchers in Crown Heights, long after all others had departed for the suburbs, was the Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, who told his people that it would be wrong for them to dismantle their community.
The 1993 Girgenti Report on Crown Heights, which was commissioned by Governor Cuomo, contradicts the notion of an even give-and-take between ethnic groups. The report said that the riot was characterized by “the aggression of one group against another” and “criminal activity. . .was targeted against the Hasidic community in a way rarely witnessed in New York history.” In short, thousands of blacks had attacked the Jews of Crown Heights and indulged themselves in a four-day racial-bias crime wave.
While everything was at an emotional boiling point, Al Sharpton recklessly plunged in and made things far worse. Sharpton planned a march up Eastern Parkway on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. He was secretly urged on by Davis Dinkins. (p 198) Sharpton quickly formed a bond with Carmel Cato, Gavin’s father. Sharpton did his best to make himself indispensable to the Cato family. Said Sharpton: “I of course agreed to help, having had experience in these sorts of tragedies.” (p 195) Indeed. Sharpton was once asked about his well-earned reputation as an ambulance chaser, to which he replied, “I am the ambulance.” Everyone needs a personal myth. When an investigation of the accident at Utica and President did not produce a criminal indictment against Yosef Lifsh, Al Sharpton encouraged the Cato family to seek big-bucks damages in a civil suit against Lifsh, who had since fled to Israel for his own safety. Sharpton announced that he would personally serve papers on Yosef Lifsh in Israel. Sharpton bought tickets and hopped an El-Al flight for Tel Aviv on the weekend of Yom Kippur. Everyone on the plane knew why he was there. In a rare moment of insight, Sharpton recalled: “The Jewish community views Crown Heights as an assault along the lines of Kristallnacht, and they’re looking at us like we’re monsters.” (p 199)
At the airport he was met by what “seems like the entire Israeli press corps.” Sharpton says that a man with a long beard approached him, held out a thick wad of hundred-dollar bills, and said “I’ll pay you whatever you want to get out of our country.” “Then a woman . . .runs up to me and yells, ‘Go to hell, Sharpton, go to hell.’ And with my Brooklyn smart mouth I say, ‘I am in hell.’”(p 199) According to the New York Daily News, Sharpton had responded to the woman with the words: “I am in hell already, I’m in Israel!”
At a recent court appearance, Charles Price, the man who incited his fellow blacks with chants of “Let’s get the Jews!” said that “on that night I felt that black people in Crown Heights were treated unfairly and that Jewish people were treated much better and that revenge was appropriate.” Sharpton offers up a similar list of black grievances as a sly way of saying that the Jews got what they deserved. It’s more Sharpton nonsense. Gavin Cato’s accidental death did not “cause” four days of rioting in Crown Heights, his death simply provided an excuse for a festival of looting, arson, strong-armed robberies, battery and racist intimidation targeted at the tiny ten-percent of the Crown Heights population that had excited so much envy in their black neighbors. To hear so many prominent blacks use the inconvenience of a few sporadic street closings as a pathetic excuse for the joyful lynching of two innocent white strangers is downright pathetic.
The almost super-human incompetence of New York’s first black mayor during the riots cost David Dinkins any hope of being re-elected. Norman Rosenbaum, brother of the slain Yankel Rosenbaum, says that he still believes that the Reverend Al Sharpton was a driving force behind the riots that raged, uncontrolled, for days in Crown Heights. Instead of trying to calm tensions, Sharpton fanned the flames, Rosenbaum insisted: “The reality is: Al Sharpton played a fundamental role in the Crown Heights riots.” Added Mr. Rosenbaum: “If someone responsible would have stepped forward, my brother might be alive today.” Rosenbaum also blasted the Republican National Committee for backing away from a letter criticizing Al Sharpton. The committee’s letter, written by then-chairman Jim Nicholson, and published in the Washington Post, called Sharpton “a hatemonger, an anti-Semite and a racist” and blamed him for the Crown Heights riots. Sharpton responded by threatening the GOP with a $30 million civil suit. Sharpton dropped his suit after the RNC issued a statement that stepped away from its charges. Said the RNC: “The letter did not intend to imply that Rev. Sharpton committed any illegal acts in connection with the Crown Heights disturbances or the events at Freddy’s Fashion Mart. The RNC regrets any such misunderstanding.”
What’s all this squishy blather about “disturbances” in Crown Heights and “events” at Freddy’s Fashion Mart? Thirteen people were slaughtered! There was blood in the streets. The Reverend Al Sharpton may have been “exercising his rights” to free speech and free assembly, but he did not behave in the best interests of humanity and his hands are not clean. A smart man can do a lot of evil without violating black-letter law. Sharpton’s inflammatory speeches on radio and at rallies served only to poison racial relations in Crown Heights. His weird rant at the funeral of Gavin Cato, attended by 3,000 blacks, in which he disparaged the Jews as “diamond merchants,” pretty much captured the tone of his contributions to the heated Crown Heights rhetoric. Sharpton’s racial chauvinism shines brightly in such orations as: “We are the royal family of the planet. We are the original man. We gazed into the stars and wrote astrology. We had a conversation and that became philosophy . . .We will win because we are right. God is on our side.” In a more combative tone, Sharpton ranted: “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!”
Lemrick Nelson was charged with the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum in October, 1991. The 12-member jury included only two whites and no Jews. The evidence against Nelson was overwhelming: the victim had positively identified Nelson as his attacker, Nelson was in possession of a bloody knife, Nelson confessed to the crime. But the jury was not about to send a black kid to prison for the killing of a mere Jew. In a clear case of “jury nullification” the jury found Nelson “not guilty.” Then a bunch of the jurors went out to a restaurant with Nelson and Nelson’s lawyers and they all partied the night away. They were sort of an foreshadowing of the O.J.Simpson jury.
When Al Sharpton caught wind that the infuriated and heartbroken Norman Rosenbaum was headed for Washington, DC to petition U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to bring suit against Lemrick Nelson for violating his murdered brother’s civil rights, the Reverend Sharpton lost no time in attempting to insinuate himself into the proceedings. Sharpton rushed to Washington; he was still in pursuit of the chauffeur Yosef Lifsh.
Recalled Sharpton: “When I got there a huge press corps had already assembled. As I’m always saying, if you’re an activist you have to know when to make your move and dramatize your cause. So we had a massive phalanx of media waiting, Norman Rosenbaum, D’Amato and Abrams are gathered with about twenty rabbis and other Jewish leaders, and they were sounding off on how they need to have this case reopened, how justice was not done in the acquittal, and the rest. The Justice Department guards – three black men – were standing at the door and saying they would receive the petitions but they could not enter the building. Right in the middle of their press conference, I got out of my car and began walking toward the door. The black guards looked up and said, ‘Reverend Sharpton! How you doin’?’ and let me in. Abrams, Rosenbaum, and D’Amato went ballistic. ‘You let him in and blocked us?’” Sharpton continues: “So I got in the building, was able to meet with a Justice Department official . . .when I walked out, all of the cameras on and taping, and the Rosenbaum party was apoplectic. They were screaming, a rabbi stood alongside me yelling, ‘I can’t believe this! We are left on the curb for the likes of Al Sharpton!’ I said, ‘If you’re here with D’Amato and don’t have the access you need, maybe you should have voted for me. I can take you places he can’t.’”(p 202-203)
On January 25, 1994 Attorney General Janet Reno announced that Brooklyn federal prosecutors would finally investigate the lynching of Yankel Rosenbaum. Lemrick Nelson was arrested on August 11, 1994 on federal charges that he had attacked Yankel Rosenbaum because he was a Jew. Three days later the feds announced that they had identified Charles Price on a five-year-old videotape as he incited a mob to violence. He was arrested. On February 10, 1997 a federal jury found both Nelson and Price guilty. In March 1998, Mayor Rudolf Giuliani publicly apologized for the way the city had handled the racist Crown Heights riots, as part of a $1.1 million settlement of a civil suit brought by Jewish institutions, people in Crown Heights and the Rosenbaum family who, correctly, blamed city officials for failing to even attempt to curb the thousands of racist black rioters. David Dinkins responded bitterly to the Giuliani apology. On March 31, 1998 Lemrick Nelson was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison. On July 9, 1998 Charles Price was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months for moving a black mob to deadly violence. Nelson and Price were the only rioters ever convicted. The killers of Anthony Graziosi still walk the streets, as do the thousands who reveled in racist criminality for four long days.
The fallout from the four-day racist hatefest in Crown Heights continues to poison racial relations even to the present day. The hands of Alfred Sharpton are as dirty as ever. As an eloquent impresario of charismatic racism, who tirelessly broadcast his warped opinions about “the Jewish diamond merchants” from street corners and radio beacons alike, it can be fairly said that the full flowering of the Crown Heights riots was Al Sharpton’s greatest work of art. If given the chance he may orchestrate even more lurid orgies of pornographic ethnic violence.
After Crown Heights, the Reverend Al told us that he wanted to be taken seriously as a candidate for president of the United States of America. He said he would be a president for all Americans, not just black folks. He wanted the citizens of this country to put its thermo-nuclear arsenal at his disposal.
Rev/Edited OutEasy, by Thomas Clough
“EVERYBODY IS UP TO SOMETHING” sm