By 10/22/16 11:50am•
Rev. Al Sharpton used a weekly gathering at the Harlem headquarters of his National Action Network to lash out at Donald Trump, and accused the sagging GOP nominee of racism and of conspiracy to suppress African-American turnout.
The controversial civil rights leader assembled an array of New York City politicians and activists at his 145th Street base this morning for the ostensible purpose of protesting NYPD Sergeant Hugh Barry’s shooting of Deborah Danner on Tuesday night. But he began his address, broadcast via radio and his website, by attacking Trump’s claims that widespread impropriety at the polls could deliver the presidency to Hillary Clinton next month—and by asserting the Queens-born businessman’s calls for his followers to monitor voting sites are in fact aimed at preventing blacks from casting a ballot.
The Republican candidate even indicated in the final presidential debate this week that he might not concede the election if the results prove unfavorable to him.
“I’m going to deal with the focus on ‘voter fraud,’ that—and ‘rigged election’—that Donald Trump has been trying to use, and the danger of voter intimidation,” Sharpton said. “They have actually said they want to have people go to the polls and become poll watchers who when you hear the description—I want you all to deal with this in the morning—they are really there to intimidate voters. And we are, that is a voting rights issue, and a civil rights issue, and I want us to deal with that.”
The African-American leader, who himself sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, recalled the full-page ads Trump took out in New York’s four major daily papers in 1989 demanding the five black and Latino youth accused of raping a jogger in Central Park receive the death penalty. Even after DNA evidence exonerated the men after years in prison, and the city settled with them for $40 million, the developer-turned-TV star-turned-politician has continued to insist on their guilt.
“I will not let this go! The only reference that Donald Trump has ever taken a position in his hometown of New York on a race-related matter was when he called for the execution of those five young men,” said Sharpton, noting that one of them was in his audience, as was the parent of another. “And even worse when DNA proved, after they had done more than a decade in jail, that they were innocent, he still says that they were wrong and the city shouldn’t have settled with them. That is the facts that they won’t bring out.”