Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the Rev. Al Sharpton for Sharpton’s annual Martin Luther King Day celebration this afternoon, happily sitting with Sharpton in a duel appearance aimed at rejecting critics of their relationship. Sharpton’s celebration featured many elected officials but contrary to his typical practice Sharpton initially invited only de Blasio to join him on stage.
In a lengthy introduction and opening remarks, Sharpton rejected the notion that he is anti-police and the notion that de Blasio’s relationship with him is either unusual or untoward. After describing his relationships with past mayors and governors, Sharpton said of de Blasio “we didn’t want a flunkie we wanted a mayor, and we got a mayor that will talk to us and respect us.” Here are his full opening remarks:
Mayor de Blasio saluted Martin Luther King and praised Sharpton as continuing King’s work. de Blasio also indirectly rebutted critics, offering praise for police while emphasizing the crime reductions in 2014 under his administration. He criticized anyone “saying something vicious and vile to a police officer”, saying that anyone doing so is “holding us back.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton and members of Eric Garner’s family this afternoon visited the site where NYPD Detectives Rafael Ramon and Wenjian Liu were murdered, placing wreaths in their memory. Sharpton and the Garner family travelled from the National Action Network’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in a bus caravan with a few hundred supporters. Sharpton spoke briefly before placing the wreaths:
How has the Rev. Al Sharpton remained a central political player for more than 20 years, with close ties to the president of the United States and the mayor of New York City? It baffles many who follow politics casually, especially those who are primarily familiar with his missteps, from Tawana Brawley to Freddy’s Fashion Mart to his tax problems, but not familiar with much of what he does.
His communication skills are a central element, but it’s more than his speaking talents. Key to his longevity is his creation and filling of an institutional role. Sharpton gave his own effective description Thursday during a press conference discussing the Eric Garner case, Sharpton’s call for federally “centralizing” investigations of civilians killed by police and a planned march in Washington, D.C.
The Rev. Al Sharpton today called for “federal intervention” to “centralize” criminal investigations and prosecutions of police officers. Declaring that the “grand jury system is broken” in “dealing with police … questions of criminality and killings” Sharpton urged federal government action akin to the mid-20th century actions on enforcing civil rights.
Speaking after a meeting of approximately 25 organizations, Sharpton also briefly outlined plans for a December 13th march in Washington, D.C. The focus of the march will be “addressing a broken system.” Here’s Sharpton’s statement:
Speaking a press conference on Wednesday evening, Sharpton briefly mentioned that he and Eric Garner’s family had spoken with Governor Cuomo. Today I asked Sharpton about that call. By his description of their call, the governor “support[s] the federal government coming in.” Here’s Sharpton’s full answer:
Here is the full Q&A:
The Rev. Al Sharpton hosted Eric Garner’s wife, mother and three of his children for a press conference at Sharpton’s House of Justice. Addressing the grand jury decision to not indict the police officer who caused Garner’s death, Sharpton “connected the dots” of other cases of African Americans or Latinos killed by police, from Anthony Baez and Abner Louima to Michael Brown and Akai Gurley, urging action. Among the actions he discussed is a march in Washington on December 13th.
Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, responded harshly when asked if she accepted the condolences offered by Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Garner spoke during an appearance with the Rev. Al Sharpton at National Action Network’s House of Justice.
The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke briefly following the announcement that the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri did not indict police officer Darren Wilson. Here is his full statement:
At a press conference addressing his tax troubles and the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, the Rev. Al Sharpton was asked whether Rachel Noerdlinger, who worked for Sharpton before becoming chief of staff to Chirlane McCray, is welcome to return to working with Sharpton. His reply included dismissively raising rumors that he is the father of Noerdlinger’s teenage son. His response clearly treated those rumors as false, although Sharpton did not expressly deny it.
At a press conference addressing the Rev. Al Sharpton’s tax troubles as well as the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, a reporter identified himself as being from Fox 5, the local Fox station. Sharpton responded by launching into a description of News Corp’s love, or at least money, for him and his past Fox appearances.
At a press conference which mostly focused on his tax troubles, the Rev. Al Sharpton also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri and the Eric Garner case in Staten Island.
Sharpton criticized the length of time that each grand jury has been working without a decision and what he termed grand jury roles that “appear to be improperly expanded to where it is about trying to prove or disprove the accused rather than to see if there’s probable cause to go to trial”. Sharpton stated that he has “pledged to the mother and father of Michael Brown that I will be there with them when the decision is announced.” He also said that National Action Network has organized “vigils and nonviolent demonstrations” at “federal buildings” in 25 cities to call for the federal government to “begin formal criminal investigation on Officer Darren Wilson.”
In response to the sole press conference question on these cases (posed by Henry Goldman of Bloomberg), Sharpton described Ferguson as “very tense” and Staten Island as having “tension” but not “as high yet as Ferguson.” He observed that a lack of indictment in Ferguson “could inflame Staten Island and incidents around the country.”
Here are his complete remarks on Ferguson and Staten Island:
The Rev. Al Sharpton dismissively derided as misleading and old news a New York Times story detailing the tax troubles of Sharpton and his National Action Network. Speaking at a news conference at NAN’s House of Justice on 145th Street, Sharpton suggested that the focus on tax debts that are several years old was politically driven and related to his support for and from President Obama and Mayor de Blasio.
Although Sharpton spent 30 minutes talking with reporters, he brought the press conference to an abrupt end. The final question was whether he is still negotiating with the federal government over the amount of his tax debt. Here’s how it ended:
Update – I Do Not Curl My Brain:
Rev. Sharpton gave a memorable quote when he dismissively suggested that the recent Times story and media focus on his tax debts is driven by Rachel Noerdlinger’s woes.
Update #2 – Statement on Back Taxes:
Here is Sharpton’s opening statement on his delinquent tax obligations.
His opening statement also addressed the pending grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown/Ferguson and Eric Garner/Staten Island cases – that portion of his opening statement is here.
Several thousand people marched from the site of Eric Garner’s death past the Richmond County District Attorney’s office, ending at a rally overlooking New York Harbor. Organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the march and rally was about the Garner case and demands for criminal prosecution of the police officers involved, but also about broader complaints and concerns around policing and racial discrimination in New York and throughout the country.
Among the elected officials I spotted: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Jumaane Williams, Carlos Menchaca, Daneek Miller, Ydanis Rodriguez, Vanessa Gibson, State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James were not there. Former Governor David Paterson joined, marching with Rev. Sharpton. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout was also there.
Update – Teachout:
We asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout why she was attending the march and her answer touched on stop & frisk, broken windows policing and Andrew Cuomo’s decision to go fishing. We spoke with Teachout in the Staten Island ferry terminal as she headed to the march.
(Flashing neon signs produced ever-changing colors and brightness on Teachout as we spoke.)
We spoke with Speaker Mark-Viverito on the ferry ride to the march. I asked her why she was going and what she hoped the march would accomplish:
Congressman Charles B. Rangel, State Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Rev. Michael Walrond, candidates in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton this morning at the National Action Network’s House of Justice.
Congressman Rangel’s remark about Espaillat during a taped debate yesterday; “just what the heck has he done except say he’s a Dominican?”, has been a focus of attention. Rev. Sharpton spoke about during his onstage remarks, and each candidate spoke about it with the press afterwards.
Update – Candidates & The Rev:
Here’s an in-depth look at their visit.
Following their onstage remarks, each of the candidates spoke with the press outside the the House of Justice.