Apparently there is an internal generational struggle erupting among the legions of black activists protesting recent police actions in Ferguson and Staten Island. On one side there is MSNBC host and veteran rabble rouser Al Sharpton, the man who doesn’t believe in the Ninth Commandment and never saw a protest he couldn’t turn into a profit. On the other are younger activists who believe the aging race-baiter is yesterday’s news.
According to Capital New York:
Below the surface of this anti-police brutality movement was another struggle — an inter-generational fight, pitting younger activists against an older, more seasoned set of players, the most prominent of which is Rev. Al Sharpton. Their strategies were less focused on street theatrics and public disruption and more on articulating a message through formal speeches and lobbying elected leaders in meetings.
At one march on December 23 from Midtown to Harlem, I repeatedly heard participants say “F**k Sharpton” and dismiss the notion that he was in any way a leader of their movement.
Today, the 60-year-old reverend responded to the growing challenge by lashing out at younger activists, addressing them in a speech to his congregants.
“They are pimping you,” he said, referring to activists who he said were trying to divide young protesters from the older generation of activists.
Sharpton made the remarks during a regularly scheduled gathering in the Harlem office of the National Action Network, the nonprofit organization he founded more than two decades ago. He told the audience about the police brutality march he led in Missouri last year, where younger activists demanded a speaking role.
Sharpton said he acquiesced, and told the crowd in Harlem today, “I’ve been meeting with them and talking with them since. And they were told, ‘Your problem is Al Sharpton and the other guys.’ Anytime you have movements, whether it’s in Ferguson, whether it’s in New York, whether it’s in Denver, wherever it is, when they got you more angry at your parents then they got you at the vote you’re supposed to be out there for, you’re being tricked and you’re trying to turn the community into tricks. And they are pimping you, to do the Willie Lynch in our community.”
Typical Sharpton! Even when the argument is between blacks, he will find a way to inject racism into the fight.
But Sharpton has come under criticism from younger activists in Ferguson and New York City, who see the preacher, MSNBC host and ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Obama as part of the status quo they’re protesting.
After some applause and howls of approval from the audience, Sharpton continued with the pimp metaphor.
“They tell them what they want to hear,” he said. “They don’t tell you ‘I’m going to turn you out.’ They tell you ‘You’re beautiful. Nobody appreciates you like I do. Look at you. You deserve all these material things. You’re not being in that London Fog coat. You should be in minks. You should have diamonds. You should have earnings [and] all you’ve got to do is come with me. We can have a brand new car together. We can buy a house in the suburbs together.’ And after they seduce you, they reduce you. And I’m not going to sit here and let them reduce our children.”
But the younger protesters see Sharpton as the pimp.
One young protester, Josmar Trujillo, founder of the group New Yorkers Against Bratton, said Sharpton has not been helping younger activists pushing for police reforms in New York City.
In a statement to Capital following Sharpton’s speech, Trujillo wrote, “In New York, specifically in the majority of the work happening in the last year, Sharpton’s brand is largely seen as destructive at worst — irrelevant at best.”
Trujillo added, “This city voted in a self described ‘progressive’ mayor and city council, only to have Rudy Giuliani’s police commissioner, Bratton, return to power. And who opened their doors to welcome him back? Al Sharpton and NAN.”
Trujillo also said, “As we move ahead here in New York, inspired by Ferguson youth, we’re speaking truth to power. Sharpton, and others like him, are in fact much too cozy with power to fill that role. For the former informant to paternalistically admonish younger, more dynamic leaders by comparing them to ‘hoes’ is just another self-serving attempt to squash dissent as he wrestles for control of a movement that’s leaving him behind.”
It’s rather ironic that it is the young black protesters seeing Sharpton for the conniver he is. Al Sharpton’s real purpose is to sell his number one product, Sharpton, and this new breed can see through the façade. On the other hand Sharpton will never disappear from public. After all if he did, politicians such as Bill DeBlasio and Chuck Schumer and duped corporate bigshots at places like Sony and Comcast wouldn’t have a place to plant their lips in a fake attempt to show they support the black community.
Cross-posted at The Lid