August 5, 2014
Rev. Al Sharpton used the 1987 Tawana Brawley case as his chariot to infamy.
A grand jury was convened in the Brawley case to investigate claims against six white law enforcement officers who were accused of heinous acts against Brawley, then a 15 year old African American girl from Dutchess County in New York.
In October 1988, after spending seven months investigating the case, the grand jury concluded that Tawana Brawley was not abducted, raped, or sodomized, and no charges were brought in the case.
Outside the courtroom, Sharpton used his well-developed preaching skills to help sensationalize the Brawley saga and spin it up into a bigger than life phenomenon which occupied the national press for several months and which widened the chasm of distrust and loathing within the black community toward law enforcement officials.
Fast forward to 2014: He seems to be at it again!
The recent tragic death of Eric Garner deserves to be fully investigated and tried in a court room before a judge and jury. Observing Sharpton’s continuing public behavior relative to the circumstances, facts and emotional components of the Garner case drew me right back to 1987, and what seems to be a mad dash to try and decide the case in the ‘court of public opinion’.
True leadership requires a focus on the big picture and on strategies to move the needle in a sustainably positive direction. A true leader must be committed to transparency, honesty and integrity in all of his actions.
I see no evidence of strategic thinking or progressive action coming from Rev. Sharpton, and that leaves me feeling very uncomfortable, indeed.