Statement by Rev. Sharpton on call for policy-oriented approach to racial profiling—
(NEW YORK, NY) -July 24, 2009 – In an interview today on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell, Reverend Al Sharpton, President of the National Action Network and long time advocate against racial profiling, suggested that a meeting be convened between the United States Justice Department and heads of law enforcement, civil liberties unions, civil rights groups and civil rights lawyers, so that a proactive dialogue about racial profiling can result from the recent incident involving Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Later, Rev. Sharpton said that President Obama’s call to Sgt. James Crowley was the right thing to do as a leader but the President has nothing to apologize for since there is no case pending and he strongly hopes that this will inspire a national dialogue.
Under the Clinton administration Rev. Sharpton, along with Attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and others met in a conference convened by then-Attorney General Janet Reno about racial profiling and discussed how to obtain policing that is fair for everyone. At the time then-Attorney General Reno convened all of the aforementioned entities–law enforcement heads, civil liberties unions, civil rights leaders and civil rights lawyers to have an independent discussion. Then-President Clinton also attended part of the conference. Rev. Sharpton suggested on MSNBC that maybe a similar type of conference is needed today to clarify federal racial profiling laws rather than continue with just a non-productive debate on the matter.
In response to the press conference today by police unions in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and others publicly seeking an apology from President Barack Obama, Rev. Sharpton said that it is interesting how they did not call upon the prosecutor who dropped all of the charges against Professor Gates to apologize while reminding people that the President of the United States has addressed racial profiling throughout his career and has always been balanced on the issue including when he was a Senator from Chicago where he sponsored legislation against racial profiling in Chicago. By raising the issue at a press conference the President was not addressing anything he hadn’t addressed before.
It is erroneous for the media and the public to perpetuate the notion that the President commented on an open case. The case was not active and the facts had been presented before a Prosecutor who decided there was nothing that Professor Gates could be tried for. In his decision, the Prosecutor refuted the actions the officer took and said there was absolutely no basis to move forward and President Obama simply answered the question in a way that paralleled the Prosecutor’s decision.
Reverend Sharpton will discuss this further at 10:00 a.m. during his live radio broadcast on Saturday, July 25th at National Action Network headquarters located at 106 West 145th Street @ Lenox in NYC. The show can be heard live on WLIB 1190 AM in New York and watched via live stream at http://www.nationalactionnetwork.net . Media arrival is 9:30 a.m.