New Visions Commentary
The National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans
Sharpton Requires a Foggy Memory
by Michael King
Reprints permitted provided source is credited
A man whose actions led to cold-blooded murders is now running for President. And, because the Reverend Al Sharpton is black and liberal, his infractions will be overlooked by many and forgotten by other. They shouldn't be.
Freddy's Fashion Mart was a Harlem boutique owned by a long-time Harlem businessman who happened to be Jewish. Freddy's owner rented space in a building on 125th Street. The building belonged to a black church.
In 1995, the building's owners decided to raise the rents on the business tenants. It's not an uncommon thing to do - many landlords have and continue to do this across Manhattan and across the country. But, because they couldn't afford the rent increase, several businesses, including some black-owned ones, were forced to move. The man who would be king, the Reverend Al Sharpton, decided to protest this - not by deriding the church elders, the landlords of the building, but by loudly denouncing the Jewish owners of Freddy's Fashion Mart.
He insisted that Freddy's owners were bloodsuckers and white interlopers who were forcing the other tenants out of the building to further their own "racist" agenda.
A short time later, a man entered Freddy's and told all the black people present, patrons and employees alike, to leave. Once they did, the same man firebombed the place, killing all inside - including a black security guard who was trapped by the flames.
Reverend Sharpton insisted he was blameless in the affair, and that the "incident" was nothing more than a tenant/landlord dispute gone awry. But we should know better than that. The firebombing and murder of those people would not have taken place but for the Sharpton's rhetoric.
And this man would be your President, if he were to have his way.
Of course, he doesn't want you to remember the people who were killed in Harlem at Freddy's Fashion Mart.
Likewise, Sharpton would also have you forget his 1991 involvement in the tragedy in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. A car driven by a Hassidic Jew accidentally struck and killed a seven-year-old black boy. Sharpton injected himself into the situation, falsely claiming in both the local and national media that a Jewish-owned ambulance refused to take the child for treatment.
Sharpton doesn't want you to remember that he showed up at the young boy's funeral, delivering sound bites that included denouncing the Hassidic community as "diamond merchants." People, acting on Sharpton's inflamed rhetoric, later surrounded a Hassidic seminary student and him stabbed to death, saying "Get the Jew." Had Sharpton not fanned to flames of racial unrest, that student might still be alive.
Of course, Sharpton doesn't want people to remember Tawana Brawley, the young girl who originally brought Sharpton to national prominence. Sharpton grabbed as much face-time with the media as he could, claiming that Brawley was raped, smeared with feces and left wrapped in a bag by a group of white men. Sharpton was convicted for the defamation of the New York lawyer he accused of the "dastardly deed" committed against Ms. Brawley. Later, it was found that the entire story was a fabrication.
Who is Al Sharpton to let the truth get in the way of a good story?
All of these scandals and lies are things that the Reverend Sharpton would like you to forget, or, at least, overlook. But don't forget - this is a man who wants your vote for President of the United States.
(Michael King is a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and an Internet and radio broadcaster in Atlanta, Georgia.)
Published July 2001
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.