Senator Kamala Harris defended the Rev. Al Sharpton as someone who has “spent his life fighting for what’s right,” after President Trump called the MSNBC host and controversial figure a “con man,” claiming he “hates whites & cops.”
If Harris believes inciting violence, leading race riots, rallying anti-Jewish protests, and corporate shakedown schemes count as “working to improve our nation,” then Sharpton has gone above and beyond.
.@TheRevAl has spent his life fighting for what’s right and working to improve our nation, even in the face of hate. It’s shameful, yet unsurprising that Trump would continue to attack those who have done so much for our country.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 29, 2019
Since the 1980s, Sharpton has engineered protests, boycotts, and riots, often pitting African Americans against Jewish communities. Perhaps the most gruesome being a four-day race riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after a Hasidic driver killed the child of Guyanese immigrants in a tragic car accident. Sharpton stirred up anti-Semitic protesters, shouting, “No justice, no peace!” They targeted innocent Jewish homes, breaking windows and setting cars on fire, and an angry mob murdered Jewish bystander Yankel Rosenbaum. Sharpton lead the mobs who chanted about killing “bloodsucking Jews” and “Jew bastards.”
According to reporter Philip Gourevitch, Sharpton used his speech at the child’s funeral to stoke anger.
“Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. … All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no coffee klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’,” Sharpton said.
Four years later, Sharpton was riling up protesters again, this time against Fred Harari, a Jewish subtenant who operated Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, and evicted his own subtenant, a black-owned record store. “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business,” Sharpton told protesters.
At a separate rally, Sharpton’s colleague at the National Action Network, Morris Powell, said, “We are not going to stand idly by and let a Jewish person come in black Harlem and methodically drive black people out of business up and down 125th St.”
The Sharpton-led protests came to a head in December when Roland James Smith Jr., who had participated in Sharpton’s protests, walked into Freddy’s Fashion Mart, pulled out a gun, ordered all the black customers to leave, poured paint thinner on several bins of clothing, and set them on fire. Seven people died in the fire, and Smith shot himself. Sharpton claimed he was not involved in the protests and was only there to mediate. The reason Harari had raised the rent of his black tenant in the first place? His rent had been raised by his landlord, a black Pentecostal church.
Sharpton has not once apologized nor shown any remorse for the consequences of the riots or the deaths caused in his wake. He even criticized the NYPD for linking the protesters to the fire.
Despite a track record of anti-Semitism, the media has allowed the whitewashing of Sharpton’s career, eased by his relationship with President Barack Obama, who Sharpton endorsed in 2007. Courting Sharpton has since been a tactic used by presidential candidates to win over black voters. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Harris have all paid visits to have lunch with Sharpton in Harlem.