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.
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke this morning at the opening of the National Action Network’s convention.
Police Officer Dennis Guerra:
Mayor de Blasio began with a statement on the death of Police Officer Dennis Guerra. Guerra died this morning of injuries he sustained while responding to a building fire in Coney Island.
Mayor de Blasio Remarks: Continue reading de Blasio At National Action Network (Updated)
Today Mayor Bill de Blasio revved up his push for full day pre-K/middle school programs initiative, speaking at a clergy breakfast in Bedford-Stuyvesant and holding a press conference immediately afterward. The breakfast featured speeches by de Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray and the Rev. Al Shapton to an audience estimated to include 100-200 clergy.
de Blasio appeared angered, in his even-keeled and sober way, at the comments yesterday by Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos that he does not intend to allow the state senate to vote on de Blasio’s proposal. It’s a major hurdle for de Blasio, and complicates the already difficult road he faces in trying to either convince or out maneuver Governor Cuomo. de Blasio has little influence or connection with the Senate Republicans. From the outside, it’s difficult to discern whether, or to what extent, Governor Cuomo is encouraging the Senate Republicans to block a vote, potentially sparing the governor a difficult choice. For de Blasio, who has already put substantial effort and energy into gaining Albany approval for his proposal, it’s a breakdown in the weakest link in the process.
Following their speeches, de Blasio and Sharpton held a joint press conference. Here is their full press conference, including their statements and the press Q&A. de Blasio and Sharpton answered on-topic questions only.