The Rhino Times reported yesterday that Al Sharpton was going to be in Greensboro today at the Civil Rights Museum. He was ostensibly to be there for a discussion about his book; but this was likely an opportunity for him to sell the book by building up the chatter about it.
Let’s not mince words. Al Sharpton is a race huckster extraordinaire who enriched himself with his antics. We have had similar characters here in Greensboro, but by comparison, they are small-time race hucksters. Instead, Sharpton has a national profile.
He is a genuinely bad guy– a reprehensible character. You can read this article at the New American to learn more about his past. Rest assured that there is more than this article conveys. And yet, for all the awful things he did in the past, he was rewarded with a national television show on MSNBC.
My cousin, Guy Molinari, used to be a United States Congressman and Staten Island Borough President. Around 1997, a notorious police incident took place. A fellow named Abner Louima– a Haitian immigrant– was involved in a huge fight outside a nightclub that escalated into a riot after police arrived and intervened. Louima had reportedly “sucker punched” the police officer Justin Volpe three times during the disturbance outside the nightclub. After he was arrested and taken to the police station, he was brought to a rest room where that same officer Volpe sodomized him with a broomstick in retaliation.
It became a huge racial conflagration in which Sharpton became involved. Prosecutors sought to drag in and prosecute several other police officers. One was from Staten Island– Charles Schwarz– and was thought to be a particularly fine man and a former Marine.
Molinari took up the cause of Mr. Schwarz because he was convinced he was not involved in the incident. But unfortunately, Schwarz was ultimately convicted and sentenced in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Sharpton and Molinari were both present at the sentencing. Molinari recounted the following in his book:
“I remember when Sharpton and I walked out of the courthouse Sharpton was swarmed by the press. As Sharpton held court with the press bellowing his race-baiting rhetoric, you could see he was basking in his glory. It tore my heart apart as I stood by myself because there wasn’t any room due to the swarming of the press to interview Sharpton. Sharpton looked toward me and with venom in his eyes he blurted out, ‘Repent, Molinari. Repent.’ I told him flat out, ‘F— off.’
“I remember having a conversation after the press dispersed and Sharpton said, ‘The assault in the bathroom could not have been conducted by one person.’ I said, ‘Maybe so, but doesn’t it bother you that it might be somebody else other than Chuck Schwarz?’ His reply was cold and calculated, ‘No, it doesn’t bother me.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing out of Sharpton’s mouth, but the Sharpton of yesterday is still the Sharpton of today.”
Molinari recounted how the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ultimately overturned Schwarz’ convictions and exonerated him. He had offered to put up his condominium as bail to get Schwarz out of prison. The man had spent four years in solitary confinement. The story was not yet over for Schwarz, but Molinari continued when the press inquired with him:
“It’s Chuck’s decency as a Marine, his discipline as a Marine, that kept him going inside solitary confinement when he knew, you knew, the world knew he had nothing to do with what happened to Abner Louima. That is Marine Corps discipline, the ability to carry forward against insurmountable odds. No, I have no worry about my home. He is a hero and a Marine in my eyes. Schwarz deserves nothing less. He needs to be home with his family.”
And he later concluded:
“Being a police officer is a tough enough job to begin with, but having been involved with several cases such as Joseph Occipinti’s, the ‘Feerick Four’ and the Schwarz case, the same pattern always emerges. Honest police officers are indicted, tried, convicted and sent to jail for something they did not do. We have a duty to support the law enforcement component of our city, state and indeed the federal government. When we fail to do that, we fail in our basic responsibilities.”
My cousin died a few years ago. I am proud of how he stood up for police officers when they were unjustly maligned and prosecuted. I don’t defend his cussing out Al Sharpton.
But if anyone deserved that kind of verbal treatment, that would have been Al Sharpton.
And yet, Mr. Sharpton was likely being celebrated today and held up as an object worthy of admiration by the usual cast of characters here in Greensboro.