Think about it.
Rev. Al Sharpton:
“Trayvon Martin committed no crime,” he said shortly after the incident. “He had no weapon, and he had every legal right to be where he was. The rush to judgment was those that moved against him, said he was suspicious and took his life.”
“Trayvon Martin’s family lawyer called me to get involved because justice was not taking its course,” Rev. Al said. “George Zimmerman needed to be arrested, the evidence supported that.”
He added, “I did not come to Florida after talking to Sybrina and Tracey to convict Zimmerman. I came to say what is good for one is good for all. Black, white, gay, straight, young and old, the same standards of justice should be applied to everyone.”
The acquittal of George Zimmerman is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice. We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman.
But even in an age of rapidly eroding boundaries between reporters and commentators, Sharpton’s multitasking stands out. A veteran champion of issues involving African Americans — from the discredited claims of Tawana Brawley to the vindication of Amadou Diallo — Sharpton helped draw national attention to Martin’s shooting last year by leading a rally in Sanford, Fla., to demand Zimmerman’s arrest. He has helped raise money for the Martin family. And he has used his nightly TV show, “PoliticsNation,” as a forum to advocate on their behalf.
Sharpton’s immersion in the story — unthinkable for a network-news figure even a few years ago — has raised questions for MSNBC and its parent, NBC News. Among them: Is Sharpton, and MSNBC, helping to create some of the very news MSNBC is covering?
Sharpton’s involvement in the Martin story is striking, too, in light of MSNBC’s own actions against its morning host, Joe Scarborough, and former host Keith Olbermann in late 2010. Both men were briefly suspended after the disclosure that they had made a series of small political donations.
“The probable cause is that you have the dead body of an unarmed person and there was no crime and there was no reason the police could determine at the scene. That’s probable cause. Otherwise, anyone in this country could be shot and killed and the police could just decide in the police station, ‘We’ll decide whether they go or not.’ That’s a dangerous precedent, wouldn’t you think so Attorney O’Mara?”
Geraldo Rivera on Friday blamed Rev. Al Sharpton for George Zimmerman being charged with Trayvon Martin’s murder.
“This was a case brought because of political pressure, race politics in this country,” Rivera said on “Fox and Friends.” “I hate to say it — I hold Reverend Al Sharpton in much higher regard than many of my colleagues…I strongly believe that the Reverend Al is the catalyst behind the murder two charge six weeks after the incident. I believe that the original prosecutor got it right, I think it is a self-defense situation…that should have been the charge — manslaughter — at best if any charge was going to be brought.”
It was hardly surprising that he flew to Sanford, Florida last week and addressed a protest rally over the 17-year-old boy’s death. He also met with Trayvon’s parents and accompanied them to a meeting with Justice Department officials. Sharpton is, in short, a partisan who is helping to represent the family against the shooter, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
Around 5 p.m. at the rally last Thursday, Sharpton bellowed: “We came for permanent justice. Arrest Zimmerman now! That’s what this rally is about.”
At 6 p.m., Sharpton hosted his MSNBC show, Politics Nation. His guests were the slain teenager’s parents. Here’s how he opened the show:
“Nearly a month ago, a tragedy took place just beyond the gates behind me. Earlier today, Trayvon’s parents, attorney and I met with the Justice Department here. And later tonight, we rally for justice for Trayvon.”
About an hour after that, Sharpton was addressing the rally again. He appealed for funds: “I want us to to get some money out. I want some of you business types, some of you preachers…And now, I’m going to start off with twenty five hundred dollars,” he said, holding up a check.
“Trayvon represents a reckless disregard for our lives that we’ve seen too long. And we’ve come to tell you tonight: enough is enough.”
On his MSNBC program on Tuesday, Al Sharpton told viewers about the rallies being planned to protest George Zimmerman’s acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. “I’ve said from the beginning we must pursue [this] until the end,” declared Sharpton, adding, “We’ll be in 100 cities on Saturday.”
Sharpton certainly knew whereof he spoke. The “Justice for Trayvon” rallies, after all, are being organized by Sharpton himself through the organization he heads, the National Action Network.
Earlier in the day, Sharpton led a group of ministers to the doors of the Justice Department in Washington to demand that Zimmerman be charged with violating Martin’s civil rights. The story got wide coverage online and on TV.
Rev. Al Sharpton has consistently shaped the narrative that Trayvon Martin was not killed by George Zimmerman defending himself but by some unknown racial or civil rights injustice that a black youth was killed by a watchmen.
Using the bully pulpit provided by MSNBC, Rev. Al Sharpton will not be reprimanded by MSNBC as others were. He will be given some favored status and escape unscathed.
Why am I not surprised?