Fresh from his high-publicity march Saturday in New York calling for “justice” in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the Rev. Al Sharpton today takes center stage in Ferguson, Missouri, at the high-publicity funeral of Michael Brown, who was shot dead by a local police officer on Aug. 9.
The Garner and Brown police-involved killings have come to crystallize long-simmering tensions about police conduct and undue use of force in African American and Latino communities. But both cases also are being carefully choreographed by Sharpton, not only to shore up his profile as the de-facto “civil rights leader” of Black America, but also as a pivotal political power broker and race intercessor.
Sharpton’s personal ambitions would be of little consequence—except that the Garner and Brown cases, of great legal significance to communities of color across the United States, are both showing signs of political tradeoffs that in fact will jeopardize or cancel altogether the “justice” Sharpton is demanding. To date, there have been no legal briefs filed by Sharpton in either of the cases that challenge highly irregular actions by state and local officials in New York and Missouri, nor have any legal actions been taken to compel specific remedies or courses of action that relate to his demand for justice.
Rather, there is a troubling coziness with the systems Sharpton ought to be at war with, and a decided reluctance, if not refusal, to engage in legal battle, which is where the fight for justice really is.
With guest Alton H. Maddox Jr., the only attorney in the United States to have succeeded twice in forcing the appointment of a special prosecutor in racially motivated crimes, Leid Stories continues its examination of the misalignment between what Sharpton is saying and what he’s not doing in the Garner and Brown cases.