Sharpton organized a picket line in front of the clothing store. On September 9, 1995, during a radio broadcast on station WWRL, Sharpton elucidated his reason for the picketing. “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother, so that some white interloper can expand his business on 125th Street,” he told listeners. “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.”
The pickets continued into the fall, and one the participants, Roland J. Smith, aka Abubunde Mulocko, took Sharpton’s message to heart. On December 8th, he entered Freddie’s Fashion Mart with a loaded gun and ordered all black customers out of the store. He shot four people, set the store on fire and killed himself. Eight people were killed and, just as he did after Crown Heights, Sharpton absolved himself of any responsibility for the incident, claiming no one “connected me to the fire,” and that his “only role was in fighting for justice in the same nonviolent manner I have my entire career.”
Sharpton continued his career of inciting animosity throughout the ’90s and and early 2000s. His last two high-profile encounters prior to the Trayvon Martin case were media-related. He was part of a coalition, including Jesse Jackson and the National Association of Black Journalists, that successfully forced radio shock-jock Don Imus off the air for using the term “nappy-headed hoes” as part of a comic bit aimed at the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Recently he has endeavored to get the FCC to take Rush Limbaugh off the air because the “FCC has the responsibility to set standards to say the public cannot be offended based on their race or their gender in this country,” contends Sharpton.
Such a statement is breathtakingly hypocritical. Here is a sound bite recorded during the Crown Heights riots in 1991, in which Sharpton refers to former New York Mayor David Dinkins as a person who wants to be the “only n***er in the newspaper, the only n***er on television…” Here is another one from a speech at Kean College in NJ in 1994, where Sharpton disparages “Chinamen” and “Koreans selling us watermelon.”
Regardless, Sharpton was hired by MSNBC and currently hosts his own show, “Politics Nation,” airing at 6 PM. Considering the trajectory of his career, that in and of itself is astonishing. Yet Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay Times cuts to the heart of Sharpton’s current role, combining racial agitation with his TV gig. “MSNBC has to cover [the Trayvon Martin case] as a news organization and as I said, we’re getting to the point where George Zimmerman is starting to speak up, the man who shot Trayvon Martin,” says Deggans. “He has an attorney. He has a side. Is he going to feel like he can talk to NBC News or MSNBC and be treated fairly when one of their signature on-air personalities has spent weeks talking about how he should be arrested and he should be in jail?”
So how does the network rationalize the conflict of interest? MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines released a statement to Deggans. “When Rev. Sharpton joined MSNBC, it was with the understanding that he would continue to do his advocacy work. We’re fully aware of that work and we have an ongoing dialog. His participation in these events is very public and our audience is completely aware of where he stands on the issues. It’s because of this work and his decades of activism that Rev. Sharpton brings such a unique perspective to our lineup.”
Such a statement strains credibility on its own. Yet that strain is substantially amplified by the fact that conservative commentator Pat Buchanan was fired by the same network. Why? In February MSNBC President Phil Griffin revealed that Buchanan’s suspension was due to the publication of his latest book, “Suicide of a Superpower.” It contains a chapter called, “The End of White America,” and Griffin asserts that he did not think the book belonged in the public discourse, despite the fact that Buchanan did little more than compile publicly available statistics and offer his opinions about the nation’s demographic future.
When American Spectator columnist Jeffry Lord inquired about Al Sharpton’s statement on this video where he issued a challenge to an audience member on the late Morton Downey Jr.s television show, as in, “You ain’t nothing, you a punk faggot. Now come on, do something!” Jeremy Gaines asserted that MSNBC “didn’t hire the Al Sharpton of 1989, we hired the Al Sharpton of 2011.”
Considering Sharpton’s current involvement in the Trayvon Martin case, which consists of once again putting himself at the center of attention, and fomenting racial animosity without a shred of evidence that any exists, one is left to wonder how they manage to discern the difference.
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