Saturday, October 24, 2009

New York State of Mind - Notes from an Emigrant

In an ongoing effort to keep you updated on the daily living and colorful politicians of New York City, I previously introduced you to Charles “Taxes?” Rangel, Michael “Hugo” Bloomberg, and Bill “The Democrat for Mayor” Thompson. To add to the pantheon of New York politicians, I introduce to you without further delay…

Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. (a/k/a Reverend Al)

The Reverend Al Sharpton has been at the forefront of every major racial event in New York City since the 1980’s. Though he has graduated from his black velour track suits and wild hair to a more Brooks Brothers’ tailored look, he is still as controversial and entertaining as ever. Let’s review a few of his more memorable moments:

1984 - Bernard Goetz got on a subway train and four African-American youths attempted to rob him. Goetz shoots at them and permanently disables at least one of the youths. Goetz was tried and acquitted of all but a gun possession charge and as a result Reverand Al staged several marches protesting the jury’s decision. He and several other civil rights leaders insisted that Mr. Goetz’ actions be investigated by the Feds for civil rights violations. They claimed that Mr. Goetz was racially motivated to shoot his attackers. But, after a lengthy investigation, the Feds determined that Mr. Goetz’ actions were in self defense rather than racially motivated.

1986 - Tawana Brawley – Ms. Brawley was found in an alleyway covered in feces, racial epithets scrawled all over her body, and lying in a torn plastic garbage bag. She claimed that she had been assaulted by six men, several of whom were police officers and at least one district attorney. After months and months of intense investigation and review, a grand jury determined that Ms Brawley had fabricated her story. During the course of the investigation, Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox, and C. Vernon Mason accused the police officers and at least one Duchess County district attorney of the alleged abduction and rape of Ms. Brawley. Three of the accused including the district attorney successfully sued Reverend Al and the others for slander and won a sizeable sum of money. Al was the only one who refused to pay and to this day he does not see that he did anything wrong. [It is my understanding that his portion was eventually paid by other people on his behalf]

1991 – Crown Heights riots – A motorcade procession of Hasidic Jews turned deadly in Crown Heights when one of the cars went out of control and jumped the curb accidentally killing a 7 year old boy named Gavin Cato and severely injured his cousin. An ambulance was called immediately and the police, fearing for the life of the Hasidic driver, shoved him into the ambulance and left the scene, leaving little Gavin and his cousin to wait for the next ambulance pulling up. Rumors that the ambulance personnel refused to treat little Gavin and his cousin spawned four days of rioting fueled by Reverend Al and the completely ineffectual then-Mayor David Dinkins was of no help. The riots culminated in the stabbing death of an innocent Australian rabbinical student named Yankel Rosenbaum by a mob chanting “Kill the Jew”. The members of the mob were arrested, but because it could not be determined who did the actual stabbing, no one was ever successfully prosecuted for Mr. Rosenbaum’s death.

I’m going to skip ahead over rest of the ‘90’s because it’s pretty much more of the same including more marches, more riots, more protests, movie cameos, a complete makeover for...a run for the Presidency in 2004. I have to give Reverend Al a great deal of credit. Though he did not get very far in his bid for the Presidency, he made a national name for himself, made some very good points, and held his own against a large field of Democrat candidates that included Carol Moseley Braun and Howard Dean.

I admit I have cherry picked some of Al’s more egregious exploits, but, in spite of himself, he does every once in while get it right. When Yusef Hawkins was shot and killed in Bensenhurst, Brooklyn by 30 white youths, Reverend Al staged several marches through the neighborhood which ended in his own stabbing. And when Michael Griffiths was chased through a Queens neighborhood by another gang of white youths onto the Belt Parkway and killed by a passing motorist, Reverend Al staged more marches which ended with then-Governor Mario Cuomo appointing a special prosecutor to investigate. Unfortunately, the two other victims refused to co-operate and the matter was eventually and shamefully dropped.

And in just the last few weeks (and since going national), Reverend Al found himself embroiled in more controversies: Rush Limbaugh’s bid for minor ownership of an NFL team and another Tawana Brawley-style case in West Virginia where the victim recanted. He has been the bane of existance for every Mayor of New York City, every Governor, and now even the President since the 1980’s, and could be considered the consummate race baiter. He has also been on the right side as often as on the wrong side of issues, but you have to admire that he doesn’t flinch and he just keeps on marching.

In other news –

- Mayor Bloomberg continues to spend himself silly on the road to re-election. The total as of today is $95,000,000 (yes that’s millions). I wish that he would have just given each $20 to spend instead. I can’t wait for November 3rd, but I still don’t know who to vote for and my decision will have to wait for the voting booth.

- Oh, I forgot. President Obama was here for a fund raiser this week just like he was in San Francisco. I was kind of surprised because usually when Air Force One comes to town we have to run for our lives. He was here to help Bill Thompson with his bid for Mayor. That’s Thompson’s bid for Mayor, not President Obama’s! But give him time. I’m sure, much like Bill Clinton, Obama will want move to New York and be Mayor here too. Anyway, Obama’s tepid endorsement did not seem to help Thompson very much. But then, Mr. Bloomberg’s unlimited bankroll isn’t helping Thompson either.

- Finally, THE YANKEES. The most loved and loathed baseball team in history is about to make another trip to the World Series. That’s if they can beat the Angels of Anaheim tonight. They have blown it before. Remember the Yankees-Red Sox AL championship series of 2004? The Yankees were ahead 3 games to 0. They can’t lose, right?! Wrong…in a spectacular come from behind, the Red Sox not only won the next four games, but they won the World Series after a 100 year drought! Actually I may have found the hidden reason for Mayor Bloomberg's term limit heist. And this is a fact – Mayor Bloomberg is the only Mayor of New York City who has NOT presided over a Yankee World Series championship! I know he's smelling that Philly cheesesteak now, or is that just the subway…

Next time – Governor-never-elected David Patterson and the case of the missing New York State Legislative body and Ground Zero, then and now…


AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Great article! "run for our lives" -- LOL! At least you can laugh about it!

I have nothing but contempt for Sharpton and I am stunned to see that he has somehow made friends with Gingrich. What the heck Newt?

It always amazes me when you think about it, how many racial incidents New York City has. For a city with so much to offer, they do seem to love fighting each other.

As for spending $95 MILLION to win a mayor's office, I can't understand that either -- sounds like insanity frankly.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew, coming from the South, sort of, I was shocked at the blatant and pervasive racism in New York City and in New England in general that I found here. There is no city south of the Mason/Dixon line that could ever get away with the kind of racism I have seen in the Northeast even today.

And as for Reverend Al, I have a heathly loathing as well as respect. He keeps everyone's feet to the fire. I almost never agree with him and he does racebait, but he's right sometimes too.

As for the whole AF1 incident, for about a week after I went from purple rage to hysterical laughter. I still can't believe anyone could have thought that was ever a good idea.

The amount Mayor Mike has spent scares me. What if he wants a fourth term. There is no one who can outspend him or stop him and that is why I still can't decide how to vote.

StanH said...

Fun read Bev! Everybody duck here comes AF1. LOL!

Sharpton is a creep of the first order, and I agree with Andrew, …what the hell is Newt
doing with this guy?

The really rich people that I know, the money is a tool, the power is the magic elixir.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: So many of the characters in NYC are bigger than life, and often much uglier. Al Sharpton is particularly noxious, but your report was well-balanced.

I kept thinking to myself that I knew the name Bill Thompson from somewhere in my distant past. Then it hit me. My home town--Chicago. William "Big Bill" Thompson was twice elected mayor of Chicago, once for two terms, and is historically known as the crookedest mayor in all of Chicago's history. He made the Daleys look like Mr. Clean. He served from 1915-1923, then again from 1927-1931. He was succeeded by the famous Anton Cermak, was a close personal friend of Al Capone's, and threatened that if the King of England ever came to Chicago he would punch him in the nose. He was essentially driven out of office by Elliot Ness. And the final sidenote: He was Bill "The Republican" Thompson. Considering his politics and his record, you now know why Obama supports your Thompson in New York.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I come from the school of thought that says, if he wants an elected office that badly, then he's probably the last man on the planet who should get it.

I started college in upstate (Troy), and we did the whole tour of the Northeast during hockey season (we went to all the away games to see the other schools in the region -- ECAC hockey). I know exactly what you mean about overt racism. You'd never see that in the South or the West, and if you did, people wouldn't tolerate it.

MegaTroll said...

I can't believe Bloomberg spent so much! Do you know what you could do with that kind of money?

Very enjoyable article! Thanks.

Writer X said...

Bev, great post! And my deepest sympathies.

The Reverend Al (how'd he become a reverend, anyway? Online courses?) has been coming to Phoenix to strut his stuff with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who also happens to be the most popular politician in the whole state because he actually does his job and arrests people who break the law. What a concept!

Anyway, it's hilarious. Al rolls into town in his pimp suit and slicked back hair, lets loose a few of his usual "big words" against Sheriff Joe like outrageous, egregious, preposterous--you get the picture. Then he blows out of town, mostly likely after collecting a few more handouts and donations from the usual suspects. As you can imagine, it goes over real well here. Can you say laughingstock? It makes for good entertainment.

BevfromNYC said...

Writer X: Thanks. Aah, the classic Sharpton hit and run with his own camera crew in tow no doubt.

I saw Sheriff Arpaio on Geraldo last night. The Attorney General had just announce that they pretty much didn't need his services anymore to police the borders. Geraldo was being usual snotty self and the good Sheriff blew him out of the water. He is great!

CrispyRice said...

Interesting article! I'd forgotten so much of all the good Sharpton has done over the years. >>eyeroll<<

LOL @ running for your lives when Air Force 1 comes for a visit.

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